• Sweden's news in English
 

Cold War treaty confirms Sweden was not neutral

Published: 09 Dec 2013 11:13 GMT+01:00

“Really interesting information,” said intelligence analysis professor Wilhelm Agrell regarding the Sveriges Television (SVT) report revealing Sweden’s long-standing cooperation with the US and other western nations.

Agrell argued that the revelations of the agreement raise serious questions regarding Sweden’s non-alignment self-image.

“This is an ongoing alliance relationship in peacetime,” he observed.

The top secret agreement was signed in 1954 by Sweden with the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand regarding collaboration and intelligence sharing, according to SVT’s investigative news programme Uppdrag granskning (UG).

The agreement was wound up in 2004 and was replaced by bilateral agreements which bound Sweden's National Radio Defence Establishment (Försvarets radioanstalt, FRA) closer to the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and British intelligence agency GCHQ.

The leaked Snowden documents reveal that FRA’s cooperation with the NSA intensified in 2011 and that FRA provided the NSA with access to its cable-bound communications traffic during the year, including access to a "unique collection of Russian high-priority targets”.

NSA is aware of how sensitive this type of extensive cooperation is in Sweden, which has long prided itself on a principle of neutrality and non-alignment.

"The relationship with Sweden is protected on the top-secret level because of the country's political neutrality," the NSA stated in a document from 2006, according to UG.

FRA responded to the revelations, telling UG that the agency never gives full access to cable-bound communications, but that information disclosed is carefully assessed.

“We will not give away something without getting anything in return. We are able to gather information in our part of the world, which we can then exchange with information from other parts of the world that would be more difficult to obtain,” said Fredrik Wallin at FRA to UG.

“This may be information that is of great importance for Swedish foreign policy,” he added.

A separate report revealed that Sweden was able to predict the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, a conflict which the US was unable to foresee.

“We could see how the Russians advanced units and how it then went quiet. This meant that everything was in place and the final preparations had been made to strike,” an anonymous source revealed according to a report in the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

The reports come amid revelations about the extent of US-led international signals intelligence activities, including revelations last week that Sweden spied on Russia on behalf of the US.

The documents describe FRA as a "leading partner" in the NSA's international cooperation to monitor communications traffic around the world.

"FRA provided NSA (with a) unique collection on high-priority Russian targets, such as leadership, internal politics," reads one NSA document dated April 18th, 2013.

New revelations which emerged over the weekend indicated that the surveillance included civilian targets within for example the Russian energy sector, and that the Baltic countries were also targeted by FRA. This information was subsequently shared with the US.

Wilhelm Agrell argued that the revelations of FRA spying on Russian civilian targets is hardly surprising.

“It's so obvious that security today is not only military. This is quite obviously part of an economic intelligence gathering, moreover, an activity that Sweden has conducted since the 50s directed against the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries,” he said to the TT news agency.

Agrell argued that it can be difficult to assess whether FRA’s espionage against civilian targets runs contrary to the law.

“It can be difficult to see exactly where the extent of the law ends in practice; then you have to really consider the nature of the information. But we are perhaps getting to this point when non-state actors are the subject,” he added, explaining that when espionage focuses on friends and allies it becomes more a political than regulatory issue.

The new slew of revelations also intensify focus on the question of how involved the US and Britain were in the adoption of the so-called FRA law by Sweden's Riksdag in 2008.

“If it is the case that there is a foreign link in the creation of the act, then one can detect the seed of a rather significant future political scandal in Sweden, concerning the issue of who is really in charge of Swedish security policy,” Agrell said.

He added that it would be particularly problematic if it emerged that the NSA has blanket access to FRA information, something denied by the Swedes.

Both FRA and the Swedish government have pointed out that Sweden's laws allow for international cooperation, but won't specify with which countries.

"A partner can't control us; what we cooperate on lies within the framework of the guidance the Swedish government has given us," Dag Hartelius, the recently installed head of FRA, said a month ago.

FRA is authorized to monitor cable-bound communications traffic to track "external threats" against the country. The intelligence gathering can only be directed toward foreign countries.

The government, military, Swedish Security Service (Säpo), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) can order intelligence material from FRA. The agency can also share information with other countries.

Permits are authorized by a secret court, the Defence Intelligence Court (Försvarsunderrättelsedomstolen).

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Norwegian in surprise move as strike continues
Passengers queuing at Arlanda airport on Thursday. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Norwegian in surprise move as strike continues

UPDATED: Scandinavian budget airline Norwegian is transferring all its pilots in Sweden, Norway and Denmark to three new daughter companies, it announced on Thursday afternoon, as tensions grew on the sixth day of industrial action. READ  

Dad killed by al-Qaeda 'was Swedish spy'
The Swedish Security Police's offices in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Dad killed by al-Qaeda 'was Swedish spy'

A man who claimed in an al-Qaeda execution video last year that he had been recruited by Swedish security police to spy on the terror group on behalf of the American CIA has been identified as a father-of-two leading a double life in Sweden, according to newspaper Aftonbladet. READ  

EXCLUSIVE
English remix of Swedish 'genitals' song released
'Willie' and 'Twinkle' are the main characters in the new song. Photo: SVT

English remix of Swedish 'genitals' song released

A Swedish children's song about genitals that went viral earlier this year has just been released in English as its makers aim to make the track a global sensation. The Local was given a world exclusive preview of the song as its composer prepared to hit the Swedish festival scene with the original version. READ  

Swedish film set to ruffle feathers in Norway
Director Ronnie Sandahl and actor Bianca Kronlöf. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Swedish film set to ruffle feathers in Norway

An upcoming Swedish film is likely to stir up strong emotions on the other side of the border this year, given a Swedish character’s description of Norway as “a retarded cousin who has won the lottery”. READ  

What's on in Sweden
What's on in Sweden: March 5th - 11th
A Game of Thrones exhibition is opening in Stockholm this weekend. Photo: Helen Sloan/TT

What's on in Sweden: March 5th - 11th

From a children’s film festival in southern Sweden to an exhibition to delight Game of Thrones fans in the heart of Stockholm. Find out what's going on in your corner of Sweden with our weekly guide. READ  

Norwegian hires rival crews as strike continues
Services out of Stockholm's Arlanda airport were cancelled on Wednesday. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Norwegian hires rival crews as strike continues

Budget Scandinavian carrier Norwegian has asked Small Planet Airlines to operate some of its flights in Europe after around 700 of the company’s pilots went on strike. But dozens of services from cities including Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen remain cancelled. READ  

Asylum seeker drop in Sweden and Denmark
Asylum seekers in Katrineholm, Sweden in February 2015. Photo: TT

Asylum seeker drop in Sweden and Denmark

The number of people applying for asylum in Sweden was cut in half in January, compared to figures from September 2014, but the country remains set to experience record refugee arrivals throughout the year. READ  

EXCLUSIVE
Swedish drug addicts seek 'better' help in UK
Castle Craig. Photo: Castle Craig

Swedish drug addicts seek 'better' help in UK

One of the UK's leading drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres is opening its doors to Swedish drug addicts and expats living in Scandinavia amid concerns that treatment in Sweden is hampered by bureaucracy and fails to offer therapy in English. READ  

Alfred Nobel's will on display for first time
Alfred Nobel (right). Photo: TT

Alfred Nobel's will on display for first time

Alfred Nobel's will creating the prestigious awards that bear his name will go on public display for the first time in Stockholm next week, a spokeswoman has revealed. READ  

Swedish police quiz man over apartment blast
Two men died in an apartment blast in Nyköping. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Swedish police quiz man over apartment blast

A 30-year-old man is being quizzed by police after two men died when a bomb exploded in an apartment in the Swedish town of Nyköping, it has emerged. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Will new military deal push Sweden to seek Nato membership?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden needs to get its act together'
Gallery
People-watching: March 4th
National
Why Swedish pensioners are having better sex than ever
Sponsored Article
Ten tips for succeeding as a start-up in Sweden
Blog updates

27 February

Editor’s blog, February 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Our most read story this week got picked up by global media from Al Jazeera to..." READ »

 

18 February

The mysterious -s, part 2 (The Swedish Teacher) »

"-s expressing “each other” (reciprocal verbs) You have most likely used this form of the verbs..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Just four Pegida supporters turn out to anti-Islam rally in Sweden
Accelerated for Ice Music
Dylan guitarist makes music history in Sweden
National
Could March bring record-high temperatures to Sweden?
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Eknäs, Nacka
Lifestyle
Madonna set for first Stockholm gig
Technology
How you could soon be charging your phone from Ikea furniture
Sponsored Article
Tourist or lifer: what sort of expat are you?
Gallery
People-watching: February 27th - March 1st
Business & Money
Ten Swedish start-ups you haven't heard of (yet)
National
How could Swedes' passion for 'fika' help cut nerve disease?
National
IN PICTURES: Swedes in 'ring of peace' protest
National
Why Copenhagen attacks led a Swedish uni to cancel artist's lecture
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Super cute sloth twins charm visitors to Swedish zoo
Lifestyle
Meet Sweden's first woman chef to win a Michelin star
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: February 26th - March 5th
Accelerated for Ice Music
What is Bob Dylan's guitarist doing in northern Sweden?
Features
How well do you know Sweden's top celebrity couples?
Business & Money
Are company boards 'too white' in Sweden?
Gallery
People-watching: February 25th
Technology
Sweden is dubbed second most 'digital' nation in European Union
National
Why more Swedes want a sex change
National
The return of Sweden's Ace of Base
National
Why has Julian Assange's case been going on for so long?
National
'21' or 'IS'? Swedish police confuse birthday with Islamist extremism
National
Spring has sprung in Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Ängelholm
National
How to never miss your favourite weekly features on The Local
National
Is Sweden home to the world's oldest living cat?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The life and career of Fredrik Reinfeldt
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Estelle through the years
National
Why are Swedish Jews worried?
Gallery
People-watching: February 19th-22nd
National
'Racist' bird names banned in Sweden
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Nobel prize to go under hammer
National
Swede named 'Fanny' banned from getting UK loyalty card
National
Spotlight on the Swedes that could be funding Islamists
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Gallery
People-watching: February 18th
National
Is a chocolate crime wave sweeping across Sweden?
National
What we know about the Copenhagen shootings suspect
National
Danish Ambassador: 'We'll live our lives the way we always have'
Sponsored Article
'Immigration is critical' for Stockholm’s future
Sponsored Article
Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

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 Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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

983
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se