Copenhagen (Reuters) – The US National Security Agency (NSA) used a partnership with Denmark’s foreign intelligence unit to spy on senior officials from neighboring countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to the Danish state broadcaster.
The findings are the result of an internal investigation into the role of the NSA in the Association of Denmark’s Defense Intelligence Services since 2015, citing nine unnamed sources with access to the investigation.
According to the investigation, the NSA spied senior officials from Sweden, Norway, France and Germany, including Germany’s former foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and former German opposition leader Pir Steinbrook.
When asked for comment on the DR report, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said that they only came to know about the allegations when asked about them by journalists and refused to comment further.
Denmark, a close ally of the United States, is home to several major landing stations for submarine Internet cable to and from Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
According to DR, an internal investigation by Denmark’s Defense Intelligence Service began in 2014 following concerns about last year’s leaks from Edward Snowden, which revealed how the NSA works.
In Washington, the NSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) declined to comment. A spokesman for the Danish Defense Intelligence Service also declined to address the issue.
“It is bizarre that friendly intelligence services are intercepting and spying on key representatives from other countries,” Steinbrook told Germany’s ARD. “Politically I consider it a scam.”
(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Additional information by Christopher Bing in Washington, Simon Johnson in Stockholm, Kirsty Knoll in Berlin. Edited in Spanish by Rodrigo Charme)