Two weeks before U.S. President Biden makes his first trip to Europe after being elected, Danish media confirmed that the country’s secret services collaborated with their U.S. counterparts to spy and wiretap different European leaders. At the same time, Biden was vice president in the Obama era.
The report published by Danish media brought back memories about those dark days in 2013, during the Obama era. Exposure by whistleblower Edward Snowden, a former U.S. Intelligence agent, revealed mass surveillance programs by the United States, including intercepting the cell phones of allied heads of state, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
At the time, Obama had awkward conversations with European leaders to try to provide an explanation for the published allegations.
Now, with several meetings already scheduled for the week of June 11 with the G7 in Europe, it will be the turn of then Vice President and current President Biden to try to calm the waters. European leaders did not take kindly to the spying reports and will undoubtedly be on the alert this time.
Snowden, who now lives in exile in Russia after fleeing the United States, claims that Biden has been working with intelligence officials in Denmark to spy on foreign leaders as part of a National Security Agency (NSA) program.
The most notable targets of the alleged operation are German leaders, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank Walter-Steinmeier.
Snowden claims that Merkel and Walter-Steinmeier are among several high-profile officials who the NSA illegally spied on.
As reported by Danish media outlet DR, the NSA acted with the cooperation and assistance of Denmark’s Defense Intelligence Service (FE), according to a European media investigation.
The timing of this report could not be more inopportune for President Biden. Among his objectives in meetings at the G7 is to negotiate a new transatlantic data transfer agreement to replace a previous one that had been struck down by a European Union high court precisely because of concerns about U.S. espionage.
In this regard, French President Emmanuel Macron said at a press conference on Monday, “If these revelations (of spying) are correct, I am of the opinion that it should not be acceptable between allies. It is even less acceptable between European allies and partners. I am attached to having ties between Americans and Europeans that are based on trust,” Macron said. “There is no room between us for suspicions.”
Macron said his government had asked Denmark and the United States “to share all information related to this espionage, so we are waiting for their answers.”
Edward Snowden posted a message on his Twitter account saying, “Biden is well-prepared to answer for this when he soon visits Europe since, of course, he was deeply involved in this scandal the first time around. There should be an explicit requirement for full public disclosure not only from Denmark, but their senior partner as well.”