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2000 11 20 * Ekstra Bladet * * Bo Elkjaer, Kenan Seeberg

The Danish Parliament is being duped in a surveillance scandal. Millions of Danish kroner are being diverted around the Finance Committee


The Danish Parliament has been duped in a scandal about the Echelon surveillance network. The Ministry of Defence has for all intents and purposes been systematically diverting funds around the Parliament's Finance Committee, which has not been informed on a million-kroner rearmament of Denmark's surveillance capacity.
This rearmament took place while the rest of the military services have been undergoing cutbacks and staff reductions. The large sums are being used to build new powerful surveillance facilities for the Danish Defence Intelligence Service which are nearing completion in Hjørring, Denmark.
Here, the Defence Intelligence Service is currently applying the finishing touches to three 30-metre high radomes to be used for surveillance purposes. Three six-story structures with giant ears for intercepting all telecommunications in Denmark and the rest of the world.
Officially, DKK 9.5 million were earmarked for building the facilities. An amount that is conveniently less than the Finance Committee's triviality limit of DKK 10 million ¯ i.e. amounts under this limit do not require the committee's approval.
But an expert in parabolic facilities and satellites, with whom Ekstra Bladet has spoken, states that facilities of this kind cost a minimum of DKK 40 to 50 million ¯ and that the total cost could exceed one hundred million DKK. Amounts that are so large they would unquestionably demand approval by the Finance Committee.
Each individual, covered parabolic antenna (radome ¯ ed.) costs from 10 to 15 million DKK. In addition, there is the cost of all the surveillance equipment for processing and storing data, tracking equipment, etc.," the radome expert tells Ekstra Bladet.



Ekstra Bladet's radome expert is one of only five or ten persons in Denmark with expertise on facilities of the same dimension as those being built near Hjørring by the DDIS. He is one of the very few experts who is actually knowledgeable about large parabolic antennas and satellites. His expertise originates from assignments performed over time by himself and colleagues for both of Denmark's intelligence services. Since there are so few experts in Denmark, the man wishes to remain anonymous. The general outline of his assertions is confirmed by the Minister of Defence himself however.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed to Ekstra Bladet that the DKK 9.5 million earmarked in 1998 were solely set aside for constructing the facilities, i.e. the cost of paying the workers to set up the radomes and lay the cables, etc. The equipment itself is not included in the cost.
"Originally, around DKK 9.5 million were budgeted for the project, but the construction itself ended up costing DKK 8.8 million," says a government official from the Ministry of Defence to Ekstra Bladet.

Does this figure also include the cost of the equipment that was installed?
The official suddenly falls silent. He promises to look into the matter and call back. He does so a little later. To inform Ekstra Bladet that the DKK 9.5 million do not cover the cost of the equipment. Only the construction.

But where do the funds for the equipment itself come from?
"The Ministry of Defence has granted the money for the equipment at Skibsbylejren. We are unable to state the cost of this equipment, since it would provide an exceedingly accurate description of our capacity."



In August, MP Keld Albrechtsen of the Socialist Unity Party asked Minister of Defence Hans Hækkerup whether the Finance Committee had been told that the Skibsbylejren would be used for surveillance when the Committee authorized the expenditure for the facilities.
Hans Hækkerup replied "in response to question 3567, that since the project involved a building project for under DKK 10 million, the budgetary guidelines were not presented to the Finance Committee ¯ in accordance with the regulations."
Ekstra Bladet present the disclosure to Keld Albrechtsen. On Monday he will demand that the matter be taken up by the Finance Committee.
"If it turns out that these facilities involve facilities with a totally different allocation than that which has been stated to the Parliament, then obviously the limited purpose of the surveillance station stated to us has little to do with reality. As a result, it must serve other purposes."



"This raises the issue of whether the installations are in some way connected to the NSA's surveillance systems. Therefore we must investigate the issue of how much the system has cost and the actual purpose of the facilities," says Keld Albrechtsen to Ekstra Bladet.
We wanted to speak with Minister of Defence Hans Hækkerup on the matter. But he refused to give a statement to Ekstra Bladet.
"The Minister has no comments," was the message given by his secretary.

Isn't it reasonable for the Danish taxpayers to be told how much money is being spent on this kind of espionage?
"The Minister does not wish to comment on this."

So we can conclude that it is secret?
"The Minister does not wish to comment on that either."

Another possibility is that the Danish Intelligence Service has received some of the many millions from the USA's Echelon service, the NSA. Ekstra Bladet asked Minister of Defence Hans Hækkerup to confirm or refute this possibility.

"The Minister does not wish to comment on this either," replies one of the Minister's aides-de-camp.

Which means that Minister Hækkerup will not deny that the USA is financially involved in rearming Denmark's electronic surveillance system.