21 November 2013, 17:17

Denmark admits to phone tapping in conflict zones abroad

Denmark admits to phone tapping in conflict zones abroad

Denmark’s Defense Intelligence Service is wiretapping cell phones in conflict zones abroad to achieve safety for teh Danish military and protect the country’s interests, Agency Executive Thomas Ahrenkiel, said in an interview for the Politiken newspaper published today.

Denmark shares the information it obtains with partner countries in the field of intelligence.

The newspaper suggests that Ahrenkiel was referring to Afghanistan, where some 300 Danish troops are still posted. However, the agency executive didn’t comment on that.

Thomas Ahrenkiel shed light on Danish intelligence operations carried out abroad for the first time. He decided to do so to avoid misunderstandings in relation to revelations by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden, the Politiken notes.

The fact is that, some time ago, Snowden unveiled various aspects of cooperation between the US's NSA and Norwegian intelligence agencies, indicating that 33 billion cell phone calls made by Norwegians were intercepted. Similar documents were released about Germany, France, Spain, Brazil, and India.

The Defense Intelligence Service head expects the same leaks in relation to Denmark.

“I can’t deny that the same story might happen to Denmark,” he said.

“So I would like to clarify that we’re not talking about the US eavesdropping on Danes’ cell phones. We’re talking about the results of wiretapping by the Defense Intelligence Service abroad,” Ahrenkiel added.

According to Defense Minister Nicolai Wammen, the Danish government “has no reasons to start an investigation” because of this information.

Austria acknowledges cooperation with American NSA

Today, while speaking to Parliament, Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner and Defense Minister Gerald Klug have officially acknowledged that the country's intelligence services cooperated with foreign intelligence services, including the American National Security Agency.

According to Klug, "Sometimes, Austrian intelligence services work with foreign secret services to perform their tasks". "Yes, among these are the NSA," he said.

Meanwhile, the head of the Defense Ministry acknowledged that the Austrian intelligence services were facing a major issue at the moment. "On the one hand, we benefit from cooperation with other intelligence agencies but on the other hand, we need answers regarding data collection on Austrian soil, which scale we were unaware of until a few weeks ago," he said.

At the same time, Klug rejected opposition accusations that intelligence branches of the Ministry of Defense had helped the NSA to collect data from within the country. "The military intelligence agency does not work inside the country, we do not spy on our citizens, do not "pick on" Internet channels in order to collect data and, as a consequence, we cannot transfer data, which we simply do not possess".

In her turn, the Minister of Internal Affairs, who also heads the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Fight against Terrorism, supported the idea of creating a European data security system. She has said that, at least the entire e-mail turnover within EU borders must be processed and pass through European servers, and not crossing the borders of the continent.

Norway denies NSA spying, says it shared intelligence with US

Norway's intelligence services said it - and not the US National Security Agency, as reported in a Norwegian newspaper - kept records on more than 33 million phone conversations over the space of one month last winter, Oslo said on Tuesday.

The daily Dagbladet said the U.S. NSA spied on close NATO ally Norway, collecting data about Norwegian phone conversations last December and January.

"This is data collection by Norwegian intelligence to support Norwegian military operations in conflict areas abroad, or connected to the fight against terrorism, also abroad," Lieutenant General Kjell Grandhagen, head of the Norwegian Intelligence Service, told a news conference.

"This was not data collection from Norway against Norway but Norwegian data collection that is shared with the Americans."

Dagbladet's report, based on documents made public by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, was co-authored by Glenn Greenwald, the former Guardian journalist who brought Snowden's leaks to world attention.

Voice of Russia, TASS, Reuters

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