EU leaders are demanding answers after new allegations that the United States is spying on its allies.
The outcry comes after the Danish public broadcaster reported on Sunday that the country’s intelligence service helped the United States spy on European officials almost a decade ago.
NBC News did not verify the report, which brought the issue back to the fore years after it first led to a diplomatic rift between Washington and Berlin.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that any American listening to European countries would not be “acceptable among the allies”.
Macron said he was “attached to the bond of trust that unites Europeans and Americans”, saying that “there is no room for suspicion between us”.
“We expect our Danish and American partners to be completely open and clarify the issue,” he said at a press conference after a virtual summit with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel said she could only echo Macron’s position, noting that the allegations relate to events several years ago but are serious if they are correct.
Swedish and Norwegian officials joined the criticism and said they wanted Denmark to explain its alleged involvement.
“We want the cards on the table,” Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hulqvist said, adding that it was “unacceptable to listen to allies”.
What are the allegations?
Danish broadcaster DR reported on Sunday that the Danish Defense Intelligence Service, known in Denmark by its acronym FE, conducted an internal investigation in 2014 which concluded that the United States had used cooperation with the Danes to spy on Denmark and the neighboring countries.
The National Security Agency (NSA) reportedly used Danish resources to spy on senior officials in Germany, France, Sweden and Norway from 2012 to 2014, in an initiative called “Operation Dunhammer”.
NBC News has not verified the report.
Approached for comment, a State Department spokesperson referred NBC News to the NSA, while an NSA spokesperson said the intelligence agency had “no comment” on the allegations.
NBC News has contacted FE and the French government for comment.
A German government spokesperson referred NBC News to Merkel’s comments, saying officials had nothing more to add.
In a statement shared with NBC News, Defense Minister Trine Bramsen said the Danish government “can and will not comment on media speculation regarding our intelligence service.”
However, she said: “The position of the Danish government is clear: systematic targeting against our close allied partners is unacceptable. “
“This is clearly a well-established principle to which the Danish authorities adhere. “
Bramsen was appointed to her post in 2019, years after the eavesdropping was reportedly carried out during the administration of former President Barack Obama.
Obama’s tenure in the White House saw an otherwise warm relationship with Berlin damaged by reports in 2013 that the NSA was tapping into German government phone lines, including Merkel’s.
These allegations were first revealed in reports leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, who reacted to the latest report with a sarcastic tweet in Danish: “Oh, why didn’t anyone warn us?”
Obama apologized to Merkel at the time and also said he knew nothing about the alleged espionage and would have blocked it if he had.
Now the new spotlight on the matter could create a headache for President Joe Biden, who is due to travel to Europe later this month for the Group of Seven summit of world leaders in Cornwall, UK. United.
Biden pledged to “fix” American alliances and reconnect with the world after four years of President Donald Trump’s “America First” doctrine.
In his first day in office, Biden signed a series of orders reinforcing that commitment, including joining the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization.
The trip to Europe will be Biden’s first major opportunity to present his foreign policy vision on the international stage and a chance to convince his counterparts that America can once again be a trusted partner.