Norwegian intelligence services have admitted sharing metadata from over 33 million private phone conversations in Norway with the American National Security Agency (NSA).
Initial reports by Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet claimed that the NSA had carried out the data collection alone. However, at a news conference today the head of the Norwegian Intelligence Service Lieutenant General Kjell Grandhagen revealed that the data was shared voluntarily with the NSA.
"This is data collection by Norwegian intelligence to support Norwegian military operations in conflict areas abroad, or connected to the fight against terrorism, also abroad," Kjell said. "This was not data collection from Norway against Norway, but Norwegian data collection that is shared with the Americans."
The secret documents seen by Dagbladet were part of those leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden earlier this year. The newspaper reported that 33,186,042 phone calls were logged in Norway between 12 December, 2012, and 8 January, 2013.
When the revelations first surfaced, Norwegian politicians and officials were quick to criticize US intelligence agencies for collecting such data, seemingly unaware that it was in fact their own intelligence service carrying it out.
"Friends should not monitor each other," said Norway's prime minister Erna Solberg. "It is legitimate to engage in intelligence, but it should be targeted and suspect based."
Norwegian justice minister Anders Anundsen added: "It is unacceptable for allies to engage in intelligence against eachother's political leadership".