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The US and Denmark's Wiretapping of Foreign Officials Must Stop

Armand Yazdani

Posted on June 11, 2021 19:21

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After news of the DDIS and NSA wiretapping several European politicians broke out, the international community has condemned these actions. By surveilling foreign allies, the US only jeopardizes its reputation.

Danish broadcaster DR recently alleged the Danish Defence Intelligence Service worked with the American National Security Agency to collect intelligence on several European politicians. According to DR, the accusations come from a 2015 internal investigation in the DDIS, which included nine anonymous sources. The report found that the DDIS and NSA collected information on German Chancellor Angela Merkel from 2012 to 2014. The news of the wiretapping was accompanied by global backlash, with Merkel herself, French president Emmanuel Macron and several other European politicians calling for answers. By wiretapping foreign politicians, both the US and Denmark are only worsening relations with the international community and must stop wiretapping in order to regain trust. 

The fact the US spied on Germany’s head of state carries bad implications for other countries. Given that Germany’s government, especially under Merkel, was a key ally to the US, no American allies can feel secure anymore. Moreover, Denmark and the US didn’t only wiretap politicians from Germany, but senior politicians from Sweden, France and Norway. The surveillance also provoked the ire of China, which slammed the US as the “world’s top hacking empire.” By wiretapping Merkel and other European officials, the US and Denmark not only compromised their relationships with other European countries, but they risked tarnishing their reputations worldwide. 

For many, it may be unsurprising that the US wiretapped these politicians but for many Danes it probably wasn’t a surprise the DDIS was involved. When American CIA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details to news outlets about the NSA’s extensive surveillance of American citizens in 2012, many Americans were jarred. The fact that the government amassed phone records on tens of millions of its own citizens was a massive revelation for many. And according to German news site Spiegel, the US put bugs in offices of EU officials in Washington to monitor them. That said, Denmark’s surveillance history is also checkered. In the early 2000s, with the help of the US, the DDIS built a big data processing centre near Copenhagen, which enabled the spy agencies to examine information collected by the NSA. And last year, the DDIS received backlash for letting the NSA probe celebrities and industrial groups. A major factor that connected the two agencies was the fact that Denmark has underwater cables for bordering countries. And the NSA in return provides new technology such as Xkeyscore for Danish counterterrorism efforts. Therefore, this wiretapping doesn’t have implications just for Angela Merkel and other European officials, but it benefits the NSA as well.

The backlash and reproach towards the NSA and DDIS by both the Danish public, European politicians and even China demonstrate why it’s diplomatically harmful to spy on foreign officials. By invasively wiretapping Merkel, these organizations have jeopardized the trust between Denmark, the US and the rest of the world. Wiretapping other countries’ officials isn’t only a violation of trust but a threat to diplomacy and foreign relations as a whole. 

Armand Yazdani

Posted on June 11, 2021 19:21

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Source: CNN
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