Norway’s military intelligence chief said Tuesday his country carries out surveillance on millions of phone calls in conflict areas around the world and shares that data with allies, including the United States.
Lt. Gen. Kjell Grandhagen made the statement at a hastily organized news conference called in response to a story in the tabloid Dagbladet, which reported that 33 million Norwegian phone calls had been monitored by the U.S. National Security Agency.
Grandhagen vigorously denied the story.
“We had to correct that picture because we know that this in fact is not about surveillance in Norway or against Norway, but it is about the Norwegian intelligence effort abroad,” he told The Associated Press.
He stressed that his agency’s actions were legal under Norwegian law since the surveillance was based on suspicions of terrorism-related activity and that potential targets could include Norwegian citizens abroad.
Grandhagen said his intelligence agency had “absolutely no indication” that the NSA was spying on Norwegians.
In a tweet, Glenn Greenwald, the former Guardian journalist who originally revealed the NSA surveillance program based on leaks from Edward Snowden, said that another document related to Norwegian spying would be published tomorrow.
Greenwald had worked with Dagbladet on the story that appeared Tuesday.