MPs demand answers on US listening station in Friesland village

MPs have demanded defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert brief them on secret US listening activities near the Frisian town of Burum.

The village is home to a large satellite station, known locally as the Big Ear, which is partly run by the defence ministry’s communications service NSO.

However, according to current affairs programme Nieuwsuur, the US defence ministry has placed its own equipment on a commercial part of the base which is only accessible to US citizens with special passes.

Commercial company

The NSO carries out monitoring on behalf of the two Dutch security services AIVD and MIVD. The rest of the site is operated by international satellite group Inmarsat.

A spokesman for the defence ministry told Nieuwsuur: ‘There is no American government equipment on the defence ministry’s ground station. Inmarsat is a commercial company working on satellite communications. The defence ministry does not answer questions about what happens on industrial parks in the Netherlands.’