WORLD / EUROPE
US spying claims roil Europe
Countries demand answers over Danish cable espionage
Published: Jun 01, 2021 05:33 PM
Edward Snowden, a former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, speaks during an award ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, on December 4, 2019. Photo: AFP

Edward Snowden, a former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, speaks during an award ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, on December 4, 2019. Photo: AFP

France, Germany and other European countries demanded answers Monday following reports the US spied on its allies using Danish underwater cables, as questions mounted over whether Denmark knew about the operation.

In an investigative report on Sunday, Danish public broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR) and other European media outlets said the US National Security Agency (NSA) had eavesdropped on Danish underwater internet cables from 2012 to 2014 to spy on top politicians in France, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

The NSA got access to text messages, telephone calls and internet traffic including searches, chats and messaging services - including those of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, then-foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and then-opposition leader Peer Steinbruck, DR said.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Merkel said Monday they expected explanations from both Washington and Copenhagen.

"This is not acceptable between allies, and even less between allies and European partners," said Macron after the two leaders talked via video conference.

"There is no room for suspicion," said Macron, as he stressed the value of the ties between Europeans and Americans.

"That is why what we are waiting for complete clarity," from both Denmark and the US, he added. 

Merkel said she "could only agree" with Macron's comments, adding she was "reassured" by Danish Defence Minister Trine Bramsen's condemnation of any such spying.

Bramsen, who took over the defense portfolio in June 2019, has neither confirmed nor denied DR's report, but told AFP that "systematic eavesdropping of close allies is unacceptable."

Denmark's neighbors also demanded explanations.

"It's unacceptable if countries which have close allied cooperation feel the need to spy on one another," Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg told public broadcaster NRK.

She said Norway had asked Denmark "for all the information they have."

Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said he had been "in contact with Denmark's defense minister to ask if Danish platforms have been used to spy on Swedish politicians."

AFP
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