3 April 2000. Thanks to Bo Elkjaer.
Ekstra Bladet, 31 March
"This is the confirmation of Echelon's existence, isn't it?" "Yes," says Mr. Dietrich from the German intelligence service, Verfassungsschutz.
For 18 months now, Germany's intelligence service has issued warnings against Echelon's industrial espionage
By Bo Elkjaer and Kenan Seeburg
Dig that. Today, Ekstra Bladet can help the upcoming parliamentary commission that shall investigate Echelon. We can now document that the German intelligence service has been warning against Echelon's espionage for at least 18 months. In Denmark, the Military Intelligence Service (FE) states that they know nothing more than what they read in the newspapers.
They tackle the situation a little differently in Germany.
Germany's national intelligence agency, Verfassungsschutz, openly warns its business and industry community against Echelon. Germany's intelligence agencies do more than just warn against the spying, however.
They also instruct German industry in how to protect themselves against the illegal espionage network. Since June 1999, the German intelligence service has been recommending German companies to encrypt all important information, i.e. encode it to prevent Echelon's spies from listening in.
And the entire process is very open. Verfassungsschutz has issued its warnings and protection guidelines as folders which they send to German industry.
THIS IS A WARNING
The German intelligence service's descriptions of Echelon totally confirm Ekstra Bladet's disclosures during the past six months in which defected spies have told about their work at these very same espionage bases shown on the revealing map.
The warning issued by Verfassungsschutz is dated October 1998. It contains a graphic depiction of the 'Echelon global electronic intelligence system' showing a world map with several Echelon listening posts drawn in. The same listening posts that Ekstra Bladet has described in countless articles over the past six months. The drawing shows how the US, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are systematically monitoring all communication around the world. 'Without filtering, Echelon monitors all e-mail, telephone, facsimile and telex communication sent via satellite around the world," writes the German intelligence agency, Verfassungsschutz. Ekstra Bladet spoke with Verfassungsschutz to confirm that their warning should be taken seriously.
Did you issue this same warning to German industry?
"Yes. We did," says a spokesman for Verfassungsschutz who says his name is Mr. Dietrich.
The reason I am asking is to confirm whether this is your stationery.
"Well, it is."
This is the confirmation of Echelon's existence, isn't it?
"Yes," says Mr. Dietrich from the German intelligence service, Verfassungsschutz.
FE KNOWS NOTHING
Denmark's military intelligence service, FE, whistles a completely different tune.
"All we know about Echelon's existence comes from so-called 'open sources' (press and media coverage - ed.). Like stories you have written and articles published by the foreign press."
What information have you passed on to Denmark's Minister of Defense?
"We told him that we do not participate in Echelon and that the only information we have on it comes from 'open sources', like I said," says Michael Peytz from the FE.
At the risk of sounding brazen, one might ask whether the taxpayers are getting enough for their money if the intelligence service states that it knows nothing about an extensive system that Germany's Verfassungsschutz has known about for 18 months?
"Yes, one could ask that question. But we don't know anything about it. And like I said, we have not participated in it nor do we know anything about it ," says Michael Peytz to Ekstra Bladet.
So you do not have any other knowledge of Echelon other than that what you have read in 'open sources'?
"No we don't. That is correct."
Which is also what you have informed the Minister?
"Yes, it is," says Michael Peytz.
TWO-THIRDS INDUSTRIAL SPIES
According to Germany's Verfassungsschutz, Echelon's industrial espionage should be taken very seriously. In statistics compiled by Verfassungsschutz on espionage cases from 1997, industrial espionage constitutes not less than 62 percent - or two-thirds - of all espionage cases in Germany known to Verfassungsschutz. The report from the German intelligence service also states that the US espionage services behind Echelon - the CIA and the NSA - are the only Western intelligence services in a group that otherwise consists of Libyan, Iranian, Iraqi, Chinese and North Korean intelligence services - the very same spy agencies that the Americans themselves have singled out as the "main enemies" on several occasions since the end of the Cold War.
Denmark's Prime Minister, Minster of Justice and Minister of Defense all declined to comment on the German information. The Confederation of Danish Industries has applied pressure on the Danish Government for a thorough account of the situation.
Marianne Castenskiold, from the Confederation of Danish Industries, believes not only that Echelon should be investigated, but also that light should be shed on the role of Denmark's intelligence services.
ECHELON IN THE EU
The European Commission refuses to acknowledge the existence of Echelon. In a report before the European Parliament, the Finnish Commissioner for Industry, Errki Likkanen, rejected the notion that Echelon exists. By contrast, he recited a statement, without personal comment, from the US State Department which asserted that the US does not commit industrial espionage against European countries. He also referred to a letter from Great Britain's EU ambassador, Stephen Wahl, who asserts that British spies are only permitted to monitor telecommunications if national security is at stake.
"This is very embarrassing," says Jens-Peter Bonde, Denmark's June Movement, who like Pernille Frahm, Denmark's Socialist People's Party, had anticipated that the Commission would humble themselves and admit their knowledge of Echelon. The two parliament members have now collected more than 200 signatures for a commission of investigation that shall clear up Echelon's espionage against European countries.
"I thoroughly anticipate that the investigation will be adopted in the Parliament, next month at the latest," informs Bonde.
He goes on to state that Germany's social democratic group will in all probability also support the demand for an investigation.
There was an opening from the Council of Ministers, however. In a statement from the Parliament rostrum, Chairman Fernando Gomez denounced Echelon 'to the extent that it exists', as he put it.
Original Verfassungsschutz chart can be found at
Caption: Material from Verfassungschutz Badem-Wurtemberg, that describes the Echelon network.
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