COPENHAGEN - THE US embassy in Copenhagen has secretly conducted surveillance in the city, TV2 commercial broadcaster charged on Friday in the wake of similar allegations against Washington's Oslo embassy.

A unit attached to the embassy, counting at least 14 people, conducted surveillance of the area surrounding the mission building 24 hours a day, a former member of the team told the Danish television station.

TV2 alleged the unit had kept tabs on Danish residents, adding their names and personal data to a special computer database, SIMAS (Security Incident Management Analysis System). It had even tailed 'suspicious' individuals near the embassy building, according to the the source, whose name was not given.

Contacted by AFP, a US embassy spokesman refused to comment on the report. Danish Justice Minister Lars Barfoed insisted in an e-mail to the Politiken daily on Friday that he 'had no knowledge whatsoever of the United States carrying out illegal activities from the US embassy in this country.' If in fact the US mission has conducted surveillance of the kind mentioned in the report, the minister said it was without his knowledge.

He had 'full confidence that the Danish security police will step in if such illegal activities come to its attention,' he added. Denmark's justice ministry refused to provide further comment, but told AFP that Mr Barfoed had been summoned to a closed parliamentary hearing on the matter within the next two weeks.

The news followed similar revelations in Norway. The Norwegian TV2 News channel reported late on Wednesday that the US embassy in Oslo had employed between 15 and 20 people, including former high-ranking police officers, to monitor local residents.

US embassy spied on Danes