updated: 19-11-2020 | 08:53
The American intelligence service NSA used a top secret Danish-American spy collaboration to purposefully spy on central ministries and private companies in Denmark. These are the startling conclusions in a number of strictly confidential reports made by an internal whistleblower in the Defense Intelligence Service (FE) around 2015.
The Danish Treasury Department, the State Department, and the defense firm Terma were targets of U.S. espionage, sources said. In addition to the warnings about American espionage against Denmark, the whistleblower in the reports also warned about NSA espionage against targets in a number of Denmark's closest neighboring countries, including Norway and Sweden.
The reports warned FE's management about possible illegalities in an intelligence collaboration between Denmark and the United States to drain Danish internet cables of information that the intelligence services could use in their work.
Data center built for the purpose
According to DR News' information, the whistleblower has prepared or participated in the preparation of at least two internal reports on the disputed matters. Sources say that the reports include documentation of how the NSA used the spy program Xkeyscore to spy on the Danish targets and targets from Denmark's closest neighbors. Both NSA and FE have access to the program, which makes it possible to search and select in the enormous amounts of data that are tapped from the Danish communication cables and stored in a data center that FE built for the purpose of American help in FE's department at Sandagergård, on the southern tip of Amager.
Sweden, Germany, Norway & Netherlands also targets
The NSA has used the collaboration for targeted espionage against Denmark's closest allies and also against Danish interests and goals, says a source who speaks on condition of anonymity to Danish public broadcaster DR. Denmark's closest neighbors - Sweden, Germany, France, Norway and the Netherlands - are also mentioned as targets.
Role of Danish Defense intelligence Service unclear
It has not been possible for DR News to determine whether FE's management acted on the basis of the whistleblower's reports.
But it is clearly contrary to FE's purpose if FE has given the NSA access to or otherwise made it possible for the Americans to spy on key Danish social institutions and the defense industry, say two leading experts in the field.
"It is basically shocking, because the authority that was supposed to protect Denmark together with PET, thus - in isolation - helps to undermine the security of Denmark's vital interests", says Jens Elo Rytter, professor of constitutional law at the University of Copenhagen.
"According to Danish law, a foreign intelligence service must of course not spy on Denmark in the way that you gain insight into military information or politically sensitive information", says Professor Emeritus in Criminal Law at the University of Copenhagen Jørn Vestergaard.