Denmark: spies for peace.
Peace activists in the 1980s are notable for their knowledge of military detail. Owen Wilkes, a New Zealander in his mid-40s, is no exception. He has done some detective work that has shaken foreign ministries in Sweden and Denmark. Last year, Wilkes bicycled around Gotland, a large island in the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Sweden, photographing secret military installations. He was subsequently expelled from the the country. This summer he discovered similar installations on the Faeroe Islands, which are nominally self-governing but whose foreign and defense policies are controlled by Denmark. The islands' strategic location, north of Scotland and east of Iceland, puts them smack in one of the two paths the Soviet fleet has to take when leaving the North Sea.
Wilkes and Paul Claesson, a Dane, published the results of their investigation of military facilities on the Faeroe Islands in Forsvar, a Danish magazine. The people who live on the islands knew there was a radar station operated by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Sornfelli Mountain, several miles outside the Faeroe capital of Torshavn. What the locals didn't know until they read the Wilkes-Claesson article was that the U.S. National Security Agency runs an intelligence-collecting operation at the station, making their homeland a likely target in the event of war.
The revelations raised a storm of protest in the Lagting, the islands' parliament, which had voted on three previous occasions to remove the NATO base. Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Elleman-Jensen was forced to reveal that the Danish government was aware of the N.S.A. facility. In 1963, the United States negotiated an agreement with Denmark that permitted the Americans to build their own communications installation on the NATO base; since the pact was of a purely "technical nature," it was never submitted to the Lagting or the Danish parliament for approval.
The reason for the secrecy is not difficult to surmise. As a NATO member, Denmark, has agreed to allow alliance bases on its soil where necessary, but has a longstanding policy against allowing individual countries to set up bases of their own on its territory. The N.S.A. installation, which intercepts Soviet communications, undermines the Danes' policy of maintaining a certain distance from both superpowers. Now the islanders are determined to have the base removed.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||intelligence station on Danish island|
|Author:||Holland, Max; Bird, Kai|
|Date:||Oct 27, 1984|
|Previous Article:||Britain: 'mole' hunt.|
|Next Article:||Egypt: deteriorating alliance.|