US base in Greenland part of spy programme

The information gathered at Thule is used by the American intelligence services and drone programme

Fully one third of the information gathered at Thule Tracking Station (TTS) – the US military base in Greenland – is used by the CIA and the NSA as part of their monitoring of telecommunications and potential terrorist activity.

The information could include photos, weather information from Iraq or the location of suspected terrorist camps in Afghanistan, according to declassified US documents reported on by Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

“These are the snapshots you use to plot a drone attack,” Torben Rune, the head of telecommunications at Netplan, a net communications company that has consulted with NASA , told Jyllands-Posten.

Some members of parliament said that they had no idea that the data collected at Thule was being passed on to intelligence agencies. Far-left party Enhedslisten and Amnesty International Denmark have called for an investigation.

"It suggests that Denmark is supporting America's secret drone programme,” Amnesty International Denmark's secretary general, Trine Christiansen, told Jyllands-Posten. “And that is something that the Danish government should investigate and distance itself from.”

Radikale spokesperson Zenia Stampe told Jyllands-Posten that she “did not mind that Thule was used for intelligence gathering to combat terrorism.”

Atomic error
Denmark gave the US permission to construct and use the base in northwest Greenland in the 1950s.

Discussions over the US presence became heated in 1968 when a US B-52 bomber crashed at Thule with four nuclear bombs in its cargo.

Read more: "Thulegate"

Years of discussion resulted in the Danish government and Greenland’s Self-Rule government deciding in 2004 that the US could continue to use Thule as part of its missile defence programme.

Michael Linden Vørnle from DTU Space in Copenhagen, who has dealt extensively with the US defence and military satellite programme, said that it is not surprising that TTS is part of a system that transmits secret intelligence to the NSA and CIA.

"I would say that it would be strange if they did not,” Vørnle told Jyllands-Posten. “The station is centrally-located for the US military to pull information down from their spy satellites.”

Rune said that one would “have to be very naïve” not to believe that Thule was being used to collect intelligence data.