Denmark’s foreign secret service allowed the US National Security Agency to tap into a crucial internet and telecommunications hub in Denmark and spy on the communications of European politicians, a joint investigation by some of Europe’s biggest news agencies revealed on Sunday.
The covert spying operation, called Operation Dunhammer, took place between 2012 and 2014, based on a secret partnership signed by the two agencies.
The secret pact, signed between the NSA and the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (Danish: Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste, FE) allowed US spies to deploy a data interception system named XKeyscore on the network of Sandagergårdan, an important internet and communications hub in the city of Dragor, near Copenhagen, where several key submarine cables connected Denmark (and continental Europe) to the Scandinavian peninsula.
The NSA allegedly used XKeyscore to mass-sniff internet and mobile traffic and intercept communications such as emails, phone calls, SMS texts, and chat messages sent to the phone numbers and email addresses of European politicians.
The covert operation abruptly stopped in 2014 after Danish government officials learned of the NSA-FE collaboration following the Snowden leaks.
Danish officials put a stop to the operation after they learned that the NSA had also spied on Danish government members.
Several high-ranking FE officials were suspended from the agency last year for their involvement in the operation, as Danish law prohibits the foreign intelligence agency from using its resources to spy internally.
News of the scandal leaked over the weekend after journalists from Danish broadcaster DR got their hands on a document called the Dunhammer Report, which contained the results of the Danish government’s investigation into the NSA-FE secret pact, and which was presented to Danish government officials back in 2015.