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2000 11 20 * Ekstra Bladet * French parliament: Echelon is real and dangerous * Bo Elkjaer, Kenan Seeberg

An official French report reaches the same conclusions that Ekstra Bladet has been documenting for the past 18 months: Echelon exists. Now the Danish Government has to take a stand, says the Danish Prime Minister's wife, Lone Dybkjær, who is also a Member of the European Parliament

Echelon exists ñ and Echelon's massive, illegal surveillance constitutes a serious threat to private citizens. This is the conclusion of a parliamentary committee report that was recently released to the French Parliament.

The report is a slap in the face to the Danish Government, which up to now has asserted its ignorance of the Echelon system.

Danish Member of the European Parliament Lone Dybkjær welcomes the report and demands a session with the Danish Government on the issue of illegal surveillance.

"This certainly takes us a giant step further in the Echelon debate."

What effect does the report have on the consistent denials of Echelon's existence by the Danish government and its ministers?
"I truly hope that the Danish Government has been acting in good faith, but now the new situation forces the Danish Government to take a stand on this issue," says Lone Dybkjær.



Ekstra Bladet has tried to get comments on the report from Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Minister of Defence Hans Hækkerup and Minister of Justice Frank Jensen.

Their silence is deafening. None of the ministers wishes to comment on the latest developments in the Echelon scandal.

Back to Lone Dybkjær.

Do you intend to contact your fellow party members in the Government and encourage them to react now?
"Hopefully they can figure out how do that without my help," says Lone Dybkjær.


What do you intend to do now?
"Fortunately, France is currently chairing the European Union, which makes it much easier for members of the European Parliament to raise the issue with the French Government and demand a question and answer session."

What should this lead to?
"Well, it could result in an official investigation under the auspices of the European Union that would shed light on the surveillance. We still don't know the extent of the Echelon network and all that. We need to find out how the espionage affects industry, citizens and interest groups."

Holger K. Nielsen, chairman of the Socialist Peoples' Party, agrees with Dybkjær: "The Danish Government must react to this report. We must demand an explanation from the US Government. It would be a fitting subject to discuss with the new president. Whoever that might be."

"The way I read the report, it concludes that espionage is being carried out on both public and private parties, which is illegal if the surveillance does not discriminate between civil communication and genuine surveillance targets. The current situation is simply unacceptable."

In light of Ekstra Bladet's recent disclosures, Holger Nielsen will discuss the issue as soon as possible with the party's parliamentary group to decide what steps they should take in relation to the Danish Government. The party chairman promises that the matter will be taken up in the European Union.



In early summer, the European Parliament appointed a preliminary committee to look into the Echelon matter. The committee has been criticised because their primary assignment has been to discover whether the system exists, rather than what Echelon does.

But now France is way ahead.

The French report was made after an enquiry from the military services committee under the French Parliament. The report is based on information from the French intelligence services and from government officials in four French ministries: interior, foreign affairs, defence and research.

So this is the first report on Echelon that is almost entirely based on official sources, many of which are usually completely inaccessible to ordinary citizens. For example, the Head of the French Defence Intelligence System (DGSE), Jean Claude Cousseran, is stated as one of the sources for the revealing report.

The report also states that France has its own surveillance system. And it proves that the French 'Echelon' was established with technological and training-related assistance from the NSA spies behind the global Echelon network.

"Our country would not possess such modern surveillance equipment if the Americans had not helped us," the report states.

The French report was originally carried out due to 'articles on Echelon in the European press' and it reaches a sinister conclusion.

'Echelon constitutes a threat to both public and private constitutional rights,' the report says in a crystal clear conclusion and ends with a request to the French Government: 'We ought to consider which steps we should take in this matter.