Just a week ago, Glenn Greenwald, the former Guardian journalist who released the NSA data leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden, said that more revelations about Denmark and the US intelligence agency NSA would be coming out.
Since then, additional light has been shone on the digital intelligence-sharing between US and Danish authorities. First came a report in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo about a document that outlines how telephonic and electronic surveillance operations are shared with allied countries, including Denmark, which was placed in the NSA’s ‘Focused Co-operation’ group, the second-highest level of information-sharing.
Now, in new Snowden leaks that were released by the Guardian over the weekend, it has been revealed that Denmark has a closer working relationship with the NSA than many other European countries, including neighbours Sweden and Germany.
Denmark is one of the ‘9-Eyes’, the second-highest level of intelligence-sharing with the American authorities.
Joining Denmark in this four-country second tier are Norway, France, and the Netherlands. The group has a more restricted intelligence-sharing relationship than the group of English-speaking countries labelled the ‘5-Eyes’: the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
But Denmark’s relationship with the NSA is closer than Germany, Sweden, Spain, Belgium and Italy – the group that makes up the ’14-Eyes’ category.
Not only has Denmark’s cosy relationship with the NSA led to many questions here at home, it has also apparently ruffled the feathers of the countries that don’t have as tight a relationship. According to the Guardian, Germany and France were rankled to not be part of the ‘5-Eyes’ group, and Germany is using the uproar surrounding the alleged tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone to lobby for inclusion in the top group.
Tight relationship raises questions
As the details of Denmark’s co-operation with the NSA continue to trickle out, PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (S) and her justice minister, Morten Bødskov (S), have both given carefully-worded assurances that they are unaware of any “illegal” surveillance of Danes or Danish interests.
But a former high-ranking intelligence officer said that it should come as no surprise that the close relationship between Denmark and the US is being revealed by the Snowden leaks.
“We have been closely connected intelligence-wise to the CIA and others since the Second World War,” Hans Jørgen Bonnichsen, the former head of domestic intelligence agency PET, told Information newspaper. “It has contributed to building the trust and respect that is essential in the intelligence-gathering community.”
PM should come clean
According to Enhedslisten spokesperson Nikolaj Villumsen, the continued revelations about Denmark’s involvement in NSA activities demand clear answers from the prime minister.
“We need the government to very clearly reveal what it going on with the Americans, so that we can get an understanding of whether Danes’ telephone conversations and emails are being monitored, as we can see is happening in other countries,” Villumsen told Information. “We have a situation now in which many Danes are with good reason suspicious of what is going on.”
A Megafone survey from last week showed that 65 percent of respondents thought Thorning-Schmidt was lying about surveillance being carried out in Denmark, while half wanted to see an investigation carried out into the NSA’s activities in Denmark.
Factfile | NSA co-operation
The '5-Eyes': The US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia
The '9-Eyes': The '5-Eyes' group plus Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and France
The '14-Eyes': The two above groups plus Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, and Italy