• Sweden edition
 
CIA attempted to recruit young Olof Palme

CIA attempted to recruit young Olof Palme

Published: 13 Jan 2008 11:59 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Jan 2008 11:59 GMT+01:00

Olof Palme cooperated with officials from the CIA and U.S. Embassy on several occasions early in his career as a student leader and political activist.

A declassified U.S. government document shows that Palme passed information to the American Embassy on communist sympathizers in Sweden in 1950.

According to Dagens Nyheter, the CIA was also actively recruiting the young activist as an agent for the U.S. intelligence service.

Palme went on to become one of the most influential figures in Swedish politics, serving twice as Prime Minister, and as leader of the Social Democratic Party from 1969 until his assassination in 1986.

“Olof Palme’s cooperation with the Americans and the CIA was well known throughout the military intelligence service,” said Ingemar Engman, a former employee in Sweden’s secret military intelligence service IB (Informationbyrån).

Palme’s contacts with the U.S. occurred when he was active in student politics and working to build up a western-leaning international student organization as an alternative to the International Union of Students (IUS).

The IUS was thought to be controlled by the Soviet Union.

In a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm following his participation in a Prague conference organized by the IUS in 1950, a 23-year old Palme remembered three of names of fellow Swedes who also attended the conference were thought to be Communist activists at the time: Gunnar Claesson, Gunnar Svantesson and Hans Göran Franck.

Prior to the 1950 meeting at the U.S. Embassy, Palme also had well established contacts with the CIA station chief in Stockholm who wanted to recruit Palme as an agent.

According to a 2003 interview with American political scientist Karen Paget, former CIA agent Tom Farmer explained that he and Palme had a good working relationship. However, upon discovering the CIA’s Stockholm station chief’s interest in recruiting Palme, Farmer thought it was a bad idea and that it would merely offend Palme.

Palme was also actively engaged in helping the Swedish military intelligence services during the same period, giving them information about his trips behind the iron curtain as a student leader in the early 1950s. He was also involved in building up the “Stay Behind” network, a top secret Swedish resistance movement trained to be activated in the case of Soviet occupation.

In December 1950, Palme organized a conference in Stockholm which led to the creation of the International Students Conference. The CIA, which was secretly funding the organization, wanted Palme to lead ISC. Palme was more interested in pursuing a career with the Swedish Foreign Ministry, although he was a member of the organization during the ISC’s early years.

Palme’s contacts were generally seen as positive, according to former Swedish intelligence official Engman.

“It was an additional secret channel to the Americans. But Palme was no CIA agent. If anything, his own interests and convictions coincided with American intelligence strategies during those years,” said Engman.

However, according to Palme’s son Mårten Palme, his father was disappointed by the CIA’s involvement in the ISC.

“It’s accurate to say that Olof was inspired early on by American ideals. Not the least when it came to his politics. But he told no one of his contacts with American agents in the 1950s, other than that the CIA had infiltrated the ISC and that this disappointed him,” he said.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden
Michael Boatwright (R) and Medieval knight re-enactors.

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden

The "motel mystery" American who baffled US authorities by only speaking Swedish when he woke up from a coma last year has passed away, Swedish media reported on Wednesday. READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

UPDATED: Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. READ () »

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop
TeliaSonera CEO Johan Dennelind. File photo: TT

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop

Stockholm-listed telecom operator TeliaSonera on Wednesday said profits had fallen in the first quarter, but hoped offering customers more data solutions in the future would turn things around. READ () »

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'
Fredrik Reinfeldt. File photo: TT

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism". READ () »

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg at the first quarter press conference. Photo: TT

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales

Swedish telecom giant Ericsson on Wednesday announced a drop in sales but posted a sharp rise in first-quarter profit, which nonetheless fell shy of analyst predictions. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping brawl
Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals

Swedish police fear that several people involved in a brawl in eastern Sweden on Monday night may be seeking revenge after two brothers were shot dead. READ () »

Sponsored Article
Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden
The town of Västervik.

Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden

Ask a Swede, and they are likely to say that their favourite holiday spot is in the southeast of Sweden. Eastern Småland and Öland offer a smörgåsbord of all the things dearest to the Swedes - from the beloved children's book author Astrid Lindgren to deep forests, long sandy beaches, perfect spots for that all-important 'fika', and a surprising amount of space, peace and quiet. READ () »

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth
Swedes enjoy hot dogs and cherry blossoms in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth

The sun is set to stick around and temperatures could climb into the twenties over the weekend, Swedish meteorologists said on Wednesday READ () »

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

A 21-year-old man confessed on Wednesday to sex crimes against eight children at a day care where he was working as an intern. READ () »

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles
An unrelated bodybuilder. File photo: Ann Törnkvist

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles

Police in Sweden's south who hauled a muscular man in for steroid testing have had their knuckles rapped, after it was ruled that big biceps cannot be grounds for narcotics suspicions. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
TT
Gallery
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Advertisement:
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

712
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com