Editor's Note: Since Salon published this story, The Guardian has taken down its report with the note, "This article has been taken down pending an investigation." Business Insider has a link to a cached version of the initial story.
The Guardian has since published a follow-up story that reports that "The president of the European parliament has called for full clarification from the US over claims it bugged EU offices in America and accessed computer networks."
The NSA has been working with at least seven European other countries to collect personal communications data, according to Wayne Madsen, a former NSA contractor who has come forward because he thinks the public should not be "kept in the dark." According to Madsen, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy all have formed secret agreements with the US to submit sensitive data.
The Guardian reports:
Under international intelligence agreements, confirmed by declassified documents, nations are categorised by the US according to their trust level. The US is first party while the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand enjoy second party relationships. Germany and France have third party relationships.
In an interview published last night on the PrivacySurgeon.org blog, Madsen, who has been attacked for holding controversial views on espionage issues, said he had decided to speak out after becoming concerned about the "half story" told by EU politicians regarding the extent of the NSA's activities in Europe.
He said that under the agreements, which were drawn up after the second world war, the "NSA gets the lion's share" of the sigint "take". In return, the third parties to the NSA agreements received "highly sanitised intelligence".
The news could be potentially damaging to countries, particularly Germany, whose chancellor Angela Merkel has vocally condemned the NSA program that recently came to light by whistleblower Edward Snowden.