Danish intelligence scandal related to data sharing with US agency, according to media

Cooperation between Danish military intelligence agency Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FE) and US counterpart the National Security Agency (NSA) has been connected to recent criticism of the Danish service by an official watchdog.

Danish intelligence scandal related to data sharing with US agency, according to media
Military buildings at Kastellet in Copenhagen. Photo: Keld Navntoft/Ritzau Scanpix

Danish broadcaster DR reports the connection based on independent anonymous sources.

The collaboration is described in the report as a top-secret collection of a large amount of raw data from cable access given by FE to the NSA.

The cable in question is used for all types of digital communication including telephone calls, internet and SMS messaging, DR reports.

As such, NSA may have been given access to data which could have included Danish citizens' private personal information and communication.

Both the Danish Ministry of Defence and FE have declined to comment on connections between the watchdog report and cooperation with the NSA.

READ ALSO: Why suspension of intelligence chief is a shock in pragmatic Denmark

“The audit of FE has raised several serious points of criticism. This is a serious issue. The watchdog has recommended an inquiry be initiated. The government will be furnished with the basis for this inquiry. So that investigation should be allowed to take place, and I have no further comment until it is complete,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said when asked about the DR report.

Criticisms made public by the watchdog, TET (Tilsynet med Efterretningstjenesterne) earlier this week include the contention FE may have passed on a “significant amount of information about Danish citizens” in breach of the country’s laws.

NSA has not commented on the matter.

DR has not been able clarify exactly when the reported cooperation with the NSA began and whether it still exists. But the broadcaster reports that it was an “extremely valuable collaboration” for FE.

It has also not been possible for DR to clarify whether the NSA cooperation is legal or illegal. Several current and former senior FE staff have been suspended due to the TET report.

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Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Monday 

Find out what’s going on in Norway on Monday with The Local’s short roundup of important news. 

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Monday 
Oslo Operahus. Photo by Arvid Malde on Unsplash

Norwegian government to unveil more details around Covid certificate 

On Monday, the government will issue guidelines on how exactly its Covid-19 certificate will be used domestically.

At 3pm, the government will hold a press conference where they will reveal more about how the Covid-19 certificates will work.

The certificate launched on Friday, but so far, the government have been sparing with details on how it will be used. 

READ MORE: Explained: How to access Norway’s Covid-19 certificate 

They have, however, revealed the certificate would be used for access to large events as well as tours and cruises within Norway. 

We will have all the details on how the certificate will be used covered in an article later today. 

Ministry of Defence: No signs of espionage 

There is no evidence to suggest that Danish data cables were used to actively spy on Norwegian politicians by the US, Defence Minister Frank Bakke Jensen has told parliament. 

At the end of May, Danmarks Radio reported that the US used Danish data cables to spy on politicians across Europe. 

“These are serious allegations that the government takes very seriously. Based on what we know, it does not look like there has been activity (espionage) directed at Norwegian politicians,” Jensen said in a statement. 

READ MORE: Norway summons US embassy top official over spying claims 

“Systematic espionage is completely unacceptable. We are clear to the Danish and American authorities about this. We are also in active dialogue with Danish and American authorities and services about the information regarding this matter,” he added. 

One in ten Norwegians plan summer holiday abroad 

Only ten percent of respondents to a new survey have said they plan on going on holiday abroad this summer. 

According to the survey by employer organisation, Virke, the majority, 60 percent, said that their travel plans have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Fewer children are being adopted from abroad in Norway 

In 2020, 46 children were adopted from abroad in Norway, half the number of foreign adoptions compared to 2019.

According to new figures from Statistics Norway, the number of foreign children being adopted in Norway is also less than 10 percent of what it was in 1998 when 795 foreign adoptions were registered. 

A total of 243 adoptions were recorded in Norway last year, almost 100 less than the year before. 

One of the reasons fewer foreign children are being adopted is that countries that have previously released children for adoption abroad can now take care of these children themselves, according to Statistics Norway.

96 new coronavirus cases

On Sunday, 96 new cases of Covid-19 were registered in Norway, 89 fewer than the seven-day average of 185. 

Fewer cases tend to be registered on weekends and public holidays than on weekdays. 

The R-number or reproduction rate in Norway is currently 0.9. This means that every ten people that are infected will, on average, only infect another nine people, indicating that the infection level is declining.

Total number of Covid-19 cases in Norway. Source: NIPH