• Sweden's news in English
 

Sweden aids NSA-led hacking ops: report

Published: 11 Dec 2013 07:49 GMT+01:00

The documents, reviewed by Svergies Television (SVT) investigative news programme Uppdrag Granskning, show that Sweden's signals intelligence agency, the National Defence Radio Establishment (Svenska Försvarets radioanstalt - FRA) worked with the US National Security Agency (NSA) in its efforts to gain unauthorized access to computers.

An internal NSA memo from a planned meeting between Swedish and US spy chiefs in April 2013 explains that the Swedes wanted to be updated on operation "Winterlight (Quantum Project)".

While it's unclear to what Winterlight refers, Quantum is known as a powerful system for hacking into computers.Computers are hijacked, information is collected, and then sent on for analysis. The leaked documents from Snowden testify that the programme has been used against Belgian telecoms operator Belgacom, which has EU institutions as customers. The breach is under investigation by police.

The NSA memo explains that the US spy agency cooperates with FRA and their UK counterpart GCHQ in the hacker attacks. The Swedish intelligence agency fired "100 shots, of which five successful have been redirected to GCHQ's servers".While the British agency is planning to pull out of the programme over concerns it may violate UK law, officials at the NSA seem unconcerned.

"The fact is that NSA's goal the entire time has been to transfer this work to a bilateral agreement with the Swedish partners," the document reads.

BACKGROUND: Sweden sits on pipeline of 'intelligence gold'

The hacking is controversial in Sweden. In 2010, then FRA-head Ingvar Åkesson assured the Riksdag defence committee that FRA was not involved in hacking and that doing so would be illegal.

"We have authorization from the Defence Intelligence Court (Försvarsunderrättelsedomstolen) for the data collection we carry out," current FRA spokesman Fredrik Wallin told SVT in response to the new revelations.

FRA also has access to the NSA's most powerful surveillance system, the wide-ranging Xkeyscore, the leaked documents show. It has been described as a "Google for spies" and the NSA claims it reaches "nearly everything a regular internet user does" in real time and a short time back, including email, Facebook entries, chats, web surfing history, and more.

"With this tool, I can get at anyone in the world if I just have the person's email address," Snowden said in a previous interview.

FRA's statutes say that the agency can only spy on foreign targets, but Xkeyscore also reaches Swedes. A leaked manual from the NSA describes how it happens: "In this example, I'm looking for anyone in Sweden that visited a certain extremist forum on the web."

Hacking can be compared with how one "during analogue times" gained access to communication systems and cracked codes, Lund University intelligence analysis professor Wilhelm Agrell explained.

But the law has lagged behind.

"Sweden only gets to share some of the intelligence that we've collected for our national needs and should keep a close eye on the information that's handed over to foreign powers. But joint operations aren't covered by the law. The closer the relationship, the harder it is to stay within the limits of the law," Agrell told the TT news agency.

"This doesn't leave the legal and political oversight of the Swedish intelligence system with very high marks."

BACKGROUND:  Sweden passes divisive wiretapping law

FRA cannot check information from a hacking operation that is funneled through British servers, Agrell believed.

"It's not about the information that's processed and reviewed before it goes on to a foreign power. It's clear that's not the case. That's where we get closer to a situation where it must be subject to judicial approval," he said.

Agrell also wondered if FRA, through Xkeyscore, could get around the law and receive intelligence about conditions in Sweden from foreign partners.

"When you carry out intelligence work together in an integrated system, the FRA law appears to be a rather thin and flimsy support to lean on to secure the rights of citizens," he added.

DON'T MISS:  Swedes 'not afraid' of internet surveillance

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
What's on in Sweden: April 23rd - 30th
Features
My bizarre Swedish habits that foreigners just don't understand
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
How the Stockholm School of Economics changes expat lives
National
Brits in Sweden face NHS black hole
Swedish Hasbeens
Sponsored Article
Is the world wrong to connect Sweden with sex?
Blog updates

24 April

Editor’s blog, April 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Spring has well and truly arrived, as evidenced by the start of strawberry season. The..." READ »

 

15 April

Gång, timme, tid & dags (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! In this article I will talk about “gång”, “timmar”, “dags” and “tid”, because they all translate..." READ »

 
 
 
Business & Money
The Swedish regions where you're least likely to stay jobless
Gallery
People-watching: April 22nd
Sport
Sweden's Eriksson joins row over foreign England player quotas
National
MEP says ignoring migrant crisis like 'Sweden's Holocaust appeasement'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Swedish mining town that's being moved
National
How much would you pay for first Swedish strawberries of 2015?
Gallery
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Want to study in Sweden? Read why Stockholm is the best choice
Photo: TT
National
Get set for a sunny week in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Does far-north Sweden have to punch above its weight?
National
Refugees in Sweden fear for families lost at sea
National
Syria claims ‘most dangerous’ Isis leaders are Scandinavian
Gallery
People-watching: April 18th
National
Swedish researchers pore over link between coffee and cancer
Features
What you can buy in Sweden for the price of a London shed
National
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Swedes launch first donut into space
Politics
Is Sweden returning to 1990s social democratic welfare politics?
National
Mamma Mia! Abba entertainment venue set to open in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: April 15th
National
Why Sweden is top place in the world for expats to raise children
National
Swedish 'submarine' was civilian boat
National
Why has a US town got pulled into a Swedish spelling row?
Gallery
Property of the week: Hovås, Gothenburg
National
What does Zlatan think of his ban?
National
Swedish teenagers help rebuild Breivik massacre island
National
Would you live in a steel box?
National
How an act of kindness by one Syrian immigrant went viral
Gallery
People-watching: April 8th
National
Swedish bids for Billboard fame
National
Swedish monkeys denied Saudi visas
National
Sunny spring weather predicted
Sponsored Article
'Impossible' to run Skanska without Bromma Airport
National
Half of Swedes want begging ban
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
National
Why are expats less likely to settle down with Swedes?
Sport
What does Sweden think of Zlatan's recent outburst?
Society
Get to grips with Sweden's most bizarre Easter traditions
Gallery
People-watching: April 1st
National
The Local's best April Fools' gags
National
US spy agency to feature in new 'Stieg Larsson' book sequel
National
Beaver bite at Swedish bus stop
Gallery
Property of the week: Åreda
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
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

3,307
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