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2000 08 04 * Ekstra Bladet * Nature yields to the will of Echelon * Bo Elkjaer, Kenan Seeberg

The Danish Defence Intelligence Service is building a 30-metre high espionage system in the middle of protected moorland in North Jutland.


Three 30-metre-high white domes are currently being erected on protected moorland in North Jutland. By comparison, the 36-metre-high Round Tower in Copenhagen is only 6 meters higher than the new, white espionage facilities. The three enormous domes will be built in a row and stick out like sore thumbs in the middle of the protected moorland area.

The Danish Defence Intelligence Service (DDIS) is responsible for building the large white radomes that shall be incorporated into the international surveillance system better known as Echelon.

The radomes are being erected on protected moorland near the Skibsbylejr military area near Hjørring, Denmark. The DDIS has received permission to erect a total of six of these enormous, round, white surveillance systems.

Ekstra Bladet obtained access to the documents regarding the Municipality of Hjørring's approval process for the building project. The documents show that the DDIS has been granted an exemption from the Protection of Nature Act to build the radomes and many small antenna systems in the area. The building project is supervised by 'Sandagerg°rd', the official name of the DDIS listening post at Aflandshage on the island of Amager, just south of Copenhagen.

Unpopular decision

"We do not like such large-scale facilities being situated in Denmark's nature areas. They greatly mar the landscape," says Jørgen Jørgensen, chairman of Hjørring's local chapter of the Danish Society for the Conservation of Nature.

"I phoned the Danish forestry commission, because I thought it was rather odd. All the permit said was 'erection of military facilities'. We were not informed of their intended size."

Are you surprised by how big they are?

"Yes, I am. We considered filing an appeal, but had a feeling it would be a waste of time."

Conservation of Nature chairman Jørgen Jørgensen steps out of his official role for a moment. "Personally, I am surprised that structures like that are still being built in our day and age. I thought the Cold War was over a long time ago."

Automated surveillance systems

The new surveillance systems will for the most part be fully automated. In addition to being allowed to erect the colossal domes, the DDIS has also been granted an exemption to establish a small service road on the protected moorland. The application states that the future road use is expected to be 'a couple of times a year', an application that was submitted by the Ministry of Defence to the Nature and Environment Office of North Jutland County.

Major Bjarke Steen Larsen from the Danish Army Materiel Command, which officially administrates the area, has previously explained to Ekstra Bladet that the new aerial facilities shall be used for communication with Danish troops stationed abroad. "They will be used for things like communication with our units in Kosovo and our observers in the Middle East."

This explanation is categorically rejected by former agent Wayne Madsen, who has a thorough knowledge of the surveillance network known as Echelon. Ekstra Bladet presented the new disclosures to Wayne Madsen.

We have been informed that they are building at least 3 and maybe 6 radomes for communicating with Danish forces stationed in the Middle East and the Balkans.

"I don't believe it, in light of the capacity you're describing. If the facilities were solely designed for military communication, then one radome, or two at the most, would be quite sufficient. So it sounds unlikely, something I would call a cover story," says Wayne Madsen to Ekstra Bladet.

Building all over the world

Wayne Madsen has previously worked as a computer security expert at the headquarters of the National Security Agency (the USA's Echelon service). Today he works as a freelance journalist specializing in intelligence issues. Wayne Madsen is not surprised that the Danish Defence Intelligence Service is building new facilities.

"There is nothing peculiar about the fact that they are building new powerful facilities, because many new satellites are currently being sent into orbit for the sole purpose of transmitting commercial mobile and satellite telecommunications. Since the range in which the new satellites can be monitored is less than that of the lower altitude satellites, additional ground stations are needed.

"The US intelligence service is also building new radomes in Misawa, Japan. Menwith Hill is also building new facilities. So Denmark is undoubtedly a link in the chain. Skibsbylejren is part of the UKUSA surveillance ring," says Wayne Madsen.

The so-called UKUSA Pact is behind the Echelon surveillance system. UKUSA is a contraction of UK (United Kingdom) and USA (United States of America). Ekstra Bladet has previously documented that Denmark formally entered into a surveillance agreement with precisely the US and the UK way back in 1950.

Back then the agreement was signed by the social democratic minister of defence, Rasmus 'Jet Fighter' Hansen. In his memoirs, the then commander of the DDIS, P.A. Mørch, called the agreement 'the brainchild of the social democrats'.