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Navy Adm. Mike Gilday meets with Danish officials amid espionage crisis

Navy Adm. Mike Gilday meets with Danish officials amid espionage crisis
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, third from L, stands at the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen while visiting naval and government leaders in Denmark. Photo courtesy of CNO/Twitter

June 2 (UPI) -- U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday met senior Danish navy leadership on Wednesday to discuss continued partnerships.

In his visit to Copenhagen, Gilday met with the Danish Minister of Defense Trine Bramsen, Permanent Secretary of State for Defense Morten Bæk, Chief of the Royal Danish Navy Rear Adm. Torben Mikkelsen and Joint Arctic Commander RADM Martin La Cour-Andersen, a U.S. Navy statement on Wednesday said.

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Gilday's visit comes as European leaders are reacting to a report that Denmark helped the United States spy on German, French, Norwegian and Swedish politicians a decade ago.

The report, by Denmark's independent public radio, follows a months-long investigation by reporters into the U.S. National Security Agency's alleged work with the Danish Armed ForcesIntelligence service to spy on various leaders, including Germany's Angela Merkel.

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Gilday's meeting on Wednesday was focused on collaboration and partnership between the U.S. and Danish navies.

"Denmark is a key maritime partner and I am grateful that our navy-to-navy relationship has expanded the past several years," Gilday said, according to the Navy press release.

"This visit was an important opportunity for us to build upon our solid foundation, discuss ways to strengthen our navies' partnership, particularly in the area of maritime domain awareness, as well as reinforce our commitment to the region and the NATO alliance," Gilday said.

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The Danish navy includes 54 vessels, including three submarines, and specializes in ocean patrol, mine operations and torpedo/missile ships. It is a regular NATO partner in anti-submarine warfare and air and missile defense.

The frigate HDMS Iver Huitfeldt is participating in NATO's At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 2021 exercises.

"The United States Navy is one of our closest maritime partners, and there is a strong working relationship and friendship between our navies," Mikkelsen said.

The Danish radio report alleges that the U.S. National Security Agency exploited cooperation with Denmark's defense department intelligence agency in intercepting Internet communications to spy on high-ranking officials from Germany, Sweden, Norway and France from 2012 to 2014.

The NSA's spying on foreign leaders was revealed in 2013 in documents leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden.

U.S. and Danish officials have not specifically commented on the report, but leaders in Europe have said more information must be revealed by both nations on what happened.

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"It's unacceptable between allies, and even less acceptable between allies and European partners," French President Emmanuel Macron commented after a virtual meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel agreed with Macron's comments, and officials from Sweden and Norway said they sought an explanation from the Danish government regarding its alleged involvement.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Fredericksen offered no comment on the allegations on Tuesday, saying, "I do not comment on stories about the intelligence work that emerges through media, but I can repeat what the Minister for Defense [Bramsen] has said, who has repeated what the then-Prime Minister said years ago, that there must not be a systematic monitoring of allies."

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