The US National Security Agency (NSA) used a partnership with its Danish counterpart to spy on high-profile Europeans, including Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, a report from Danish state broadcaster DR has alleged.
According to the report, the NSA used underwater internet cables connecting Denmark to other European nations to spy on senior officials in Sweden, Norway, France and Germany between 2012 and 2014.
Along with Merkel, Germany's political leader since 2005, the NSA intercepted calls, texts and chat messages from the country's former Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and former opposition politician Peer Steinbrueck.
According to the Danish report, which quoted nine people with knowledge of the situation, the information was accessed by a NSA program called Xkeyscore.
It said an internal investigation in the Danish state security services was initiated in 2014, following the explosive leaks by Edward Snowden, which revealed NSA digital spying.
In Washington, the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. Officials in Copenhagen are also yet to respond.
But across Europe, the reaction has been damning.
"I consider it a scandal," former opposition leader Steinbrueck told Germany's ARD. He added: It's "grotesque that friendly intelligence services are indeed intercepting and spying on top representatives."
Denmark's Scandinavian neighbors Sweden and Norway have responded to the allegations, with Sweden's Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist demanding a "full investigation."
And France's European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said "diplomatic protests" could follow.