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- Revealed: secret European deals to hand over private data to America
- Germany 'among countries offering intelligence' according to new claims by former US defence analyst
- At least six European Union countries in addition to Britain have been colluding with the US over the mass harvesting of personal communications data,
- according to a former contractor to America's National Security Agency, who said the public should not be "kept in the dark".
- Wayne Madsen, a former US navy lieutenant who first worked for the NSA in 1985 and over the next 12 years held several sensitive positions within the
- agency, names Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as having secret deals with the US.
- Madsen said the countries had "formal second and third party status" under signal intelligence (sigint) agreements that compels them to hand
- over data, including mobile phone and internet information to the NSA if requested.
- Under international intelligence agreements, confirmed by declassified documents, nations are categorised by the US according to their trust level. The US
- is first party while the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand enjoy second party relationships. Germany and France have third party relationships.
- In an interview published last night on the PrivacySurgeon.org blog, Madsen, who has been attacked for holding controversial views on espionage issues,
- said he had decided to speak out after becoming concerned about the "half story" told by EU politicians regarding the extent of the NSA's
- activities in Europe.
- He said that under the agreements, which were drawn up after the second world war, the "NSA gets the lion's share" of the sigint
- "take". In return, the third parties to the NSA agreements received "highly sanitised intelligence".
- Madsen said he was alarmed at the "sanctimonious outcry" of political leaders who were "feigning shock" about the spying operations
- while staying silent about their own arrangements with the US, and was particularly concerned that senior German politicians had accused the UK of spying
- when their country had a similar third-party deal with the NSA.
- Although the level of co-operation provided by other European countries to the NSA is not on the same scale as that provided by the UK, the allegations are
- potentially embarrassing.
- "I can't understand how Angela Merkel can keep a straight face, demanding assurances from [Barack] Obama and the UK while Germany has entered into
- those exact relationships," Madsen said.
- The Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Ludford, a senior member of the European parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said
- Madsen's allegations confirmed that the entire system for monitoring data interception was a mess, because the EU was unable to intervene in intelligence
- matters, which remained the exclusive concern of national governments.
- "The intelligence agencies are exploiting these contradictions and no one is really holding them to account," Ludford said. "It's
- terribly undermining to liberal democracy."
- Madsen's disclosures have prompted calls for European governments to come clean on their arrangements with the NSA. "There needs to be transparency
- as to whether or not it is legal for the US or any other security service to interrogate private material," said John Cooper QC, a leading
- international human rights lawyer. "The problem here is that none of these arrangements has been debated in any democratic arena. I agree with
- William Hague that sometimes things have to be done in secret, but you don't break the law in secret."
- Madsen said all seven European countries and the US have access to the Tat 14 fibre-optic cable network running between Denmark and Germany, the
- Netherlands, France, the UK and the US, allowing them to intercept vast amounts of data, including phone calls, emails and records of users' access to
- He said the public needed to be made aware of the full scale of the communication-sharing arrangements between European countries and the US, which predate
- the internet and became of strategic importance during the cold war.
- The covert relationship between the countries was first outlined in a 2001 report by the European parliament, but their explicit connection with the NSA
- was not publicised until Madsen decided to speak out.
- The European parliament's report followed revelations that the NSA was conducting a global intelligence-gathering operation, known as Echelon, which
- appears to have established the framework for European member states to collaborate with the US.
- "A lot of this information isn't secret, nor is it new," Madsen said. "It's just that governments have chosen to keep the public in the
- dark about it. The days when they could get away with a conspiracy of silence are over."
- This month another former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, revealed to the Guardian previously undisclosed US programmes to monitor telephone and internet
- traffic. The NSA is alleged to have shared some of its data, gathered using a specialist tool called Prism, with Britain's GCHQ.
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