In her first remarks on the subject since the revelations emerged on Sunday, Mette Frederiksen refused to address the claims directly.
But as a general rule, “there should not be any systematic surveillance of allies”, she told reporters.
In an investigative report on Sunday, Danish public broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR) and other European media outlets said the US National Security Agency (NSA) had eavesdropped on Danish underwater internet cables from 2012 to 2014.
They spied on top politicians in France, Germany, Norway and Sweden, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Reports of allies spying on each other have surfaced ever since the Snowden affair in 2013, and after these latest revelations Paris, Berlin and other European capitals on Monday demanded answers from Denmark.
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Frederiksen played down the damage done to Denmark’s relations with its allies.
“We have a good dialogue,” she said. “I don’t think it’s correct to say that there’s a need to repair relations with France or Germany. We have an ongoing dialogue, which includes the field of intelligence,” she said.
According to DR, the NSA got access to text messages, telephone calls and internet traffic including searches, chats and messaging services — including those of Germany’s Merkel, then-foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and then-opposition leader Peer Steinbruck.
It remains unclear whether Denmark knew at the time that the US was using the cables to spy on Denmark’s neighbours. Washington has yet to comment publicly on the matter.
DR’s revelations are based on a classified, internal report written by a working group at Denmark’s military intelligence unit FE.
The report, submitted to FE management in May 2015, was commissioned by FE after the Snowden affair came to light — which suggests Denmark may not have been aware the US was using its cables to spy on its neighbours.
Five years later, in August 2020, several top FE directors were removed from their posts, a move DR said was linked to the US spying.