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News > Denmark

Denmark's Ex Minister Denies Responsibility in Spying Scandal

  • European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager, Brussels, Belgium, May 5, 2021.

    European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager, Brussels, Belgium, May 5, 2021. | Photo: EFE

Published 3 June 2021

Margrethe Vestager said that while she was Interior Minister her responsibilities did not include overseeing the activities of Danish intelligence services.

On Thursday, European Commission (EC) Vice President Margrethe Vestager explained that while she was Denmark's Interior Minister, she was not responsible for overseeing her country's intelligence services, which allegedly collaborated with the United States to spy on other European countries.


Denmark Collaborated With the United States to Spy on Allies

Previously, European journalists revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) used Danish telecommunications cables to conduct illegal eavesdropping on the rulers of countries such as Germany, France, Sweden, and Norway. Consented to by Danish intelligence, these spying actions would have happened between 2012 and 2014.

Vestager argues that the Interior Ministry does not control the intelligence services as its responsibilities relate only to matters such as the holding of elections and the functioning of subnational governments. 

"In Denmark, the parliament has a control commission for the supervision of the intelligence services," she recalled, stressing that "I have always maintained that you should not spy on your neighbors."

Germany and France asked Denmark for explanations following revelations made by Danish public television DR, which accessed a 2015 confidential report concluding that the NSA had spied using Denmark's Internet network.

This report was handed over to the Danish intelligence watchdog, which opened an investigation into the events three years after they occurred. While several high-ranking Defense Ministry officials were suspended for spying on Danish citizens, the interceptions of the phone conversations of European leaders had remained unknown until now.

In 2013, however, former CIA analyst Edward Snowden first exposed the U.S. spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders.

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