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Intelligence agency on defensive over NSA leaks

Danish and Norwegian intelligence agencies confirm that they share data from intercepted phone calls with the NSA, but claim that the data was collected in conflict zones


Leaked NSA documents show Norway shared intercepted phone calls, but it's uncertain where the phone calls took place (Photo: Colourbox)

November 21, 2013
20:18

by Peter Stanners


The head of the external intelligence agency, Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FE), is on the defensive ahead of expected revelations about Denmark’s role in spying by the US intelligence agency, NSA.

On Tuesday, Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet revealed that the NSA held so-called metadata about mobile phone calls that it received from Norway.

A document published by Dagbladet shows a bar graph labelled ‘Norway’ that allegedly shows the volume of intercepted phone calls on a given day.

READ MORE: Denmark is one of the NSA's '9-eyes'

33 million phone calls intercepted
Norwegian intelligence agency yesterday confirmed that, over the space of one month, the agency gathered and shared data on 33 million phone calls with the NSA.

The Norwegians argued, however, that the data was not gathered by the NSA but instead was gathered by the Norwegians abroad in conflict zones abroad and shared with the NSA.

In an interview with Politiken newspaper, FE head Thomas Ahrienkel said that a similar story about Denmark is likely to hit the news.

Not domestic calls
“That is why I want to state that this is not about the mass surveillance of Danish mobile phone traffic by the US,” Ahrienkel told Politiken. “Instead, it’s about the collection of telecommunications that was conducted by FE abroad and then subsequently shared.”

The information stems from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and was shared with the media by journalist Glenn Greenwald.

READ MORE: New NSA leak: High level of Danish and US intelligence sharing

Speaking to Politiken, Greenwald argues that the explanation from the intelligence agencies contradicts the data that show the information was gathered “against” Norway.

“I know that what [they] are saying is completely different to what the NSA documents clearly show,” Greenwald said.



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