Former Democrat President Barack Obama’s administration reportedly spied on U.S. allies in Europe and top European politicians – including German Chancellor Angela Merkel – by using Denmark’s Defense Intelligence Service (FE).
“The findings are the result of a 2015 internal investigation in the Danish Defense Intelligence Service into NSA’s role in the partnership,” Reuters reported. “According to the investigation, which covered the period from 2012 to 2014, the NSA used Danish information cables to spy on senior officials in Sweden, Norway, France and Germany, including former German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and former German opposition leader Peer Steinbrück.”
The alleged operation – dubbed “Operation Dunhammer” – allowed the NSA to obtain phone calls, texts, and chat messages to and from the official’s telephones.
Some of the reaction from European officials include:
- Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg: “It’s unacceptable if countries which have close allied co-operation feel the need to spy on one another.”
- French President Emmanuel Macron: “If the information is correct, then that’s unacceptable between allies, and even less so between European allies. We expect complete openness and a clarification of the facts from our Danish and American partners.”
- French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune: “These potential facts, they are serious, they must be checked.”
- Former German opposition leader Peer Steinbrück said it was “grotesque that friendly intelligence services are indeed intercepting and spying on top representatives” of other countries, adding: “politically I consider it a scandal.”
- German government spokesman Steffen Seibert: “The federal government has taken note of the report and is in contact with all relevant national and international bodies for clarification. As a matter of principle, and you already know this, I would ask you to understand that the federal government does not openly comment on matters concerning intelligence activities.”
Reports first surfaced that the Obama administration was spying on U.S. allies in 2013 when it was revealed that they had spied on Germany and France. The spying on France appears to have started during the latter years of former President George W. Bush’s administration.
Revelations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) tapped Merkel’s cellphone emerged in 2013 after former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden shared documents with The Guardian showing that a US official had handed the agency 200 phone numbers, including those of world leaders, for the agency to monitor.
The report did not name any of the 35 world leaders that were allegedly on in the list. However, few months after the initial reports, the German government publicly said it had information that suggested the US might have monitored Merkel’s cell phone. Germany’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the allegation, but dropped it in 2015, saying it had uncovered insufficient evidence to launch a successful prosecution.
“The Danish government can and will not comment on speculation in the media concerning our intelligence services,” Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen said. “The position of the Danish government is clear — systematic targeting against our close allied partners is unacceptable. Clearly, that is a well-established principle that Danish authorities adhere to.”