Bugging proposal ‘enjoys support of government partners’

When presenting his proposal on secret telephone call and e-mail monitoring on Wednesday morning, defence minister Mikael Odenberg stressed that he enjoyed the support of his government partners.

The opposition on the other hand was quick to reiterate its criticism of the move.

The proposal has now been sent to Sweden’s Legislative Council for consideration, a body consisting of experienced senior members of the judiciary.

If ratified the proposal would entail extensive new monitoring powers for the National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets Radioanstalt – FRA), an agency that has previously only concerned itself with radio traffic.

During the Cold War, the FRA was kept busy intercepting military signals from Warsaw Pact countries. Under the proposed changes it will become possible for government agencies and the military to commission work from the FRA.

Odenberg presented his proposal to the alliance parties’ parliamentary groups on Tuesday. The minister expects that the Social Democrats, who considered a similar strategy during their time in government, will soon lend their support to the plan.

The proposal will then be put before the Swedish parliament in the spring and, if ratified, become law on July 1 of this year.

The defence minister has not been impressed with the level of debate surrounding the proposal.

“There have been many errors, almost to the point of disinformation,” said Odenberg.

He is especially critical of the strident opinions expressed by the Swedish Security Service.

“We want to clarify the borders between police work and military intelligence, and we want a clearer legal mandate for an organisation that has been running for decades. And we want to update that organisation’s technology,” said Odenberg.

Green Party spokesman Peter Eriksson is extremely critical.

“This is terrible. They are abolishing legal rights built up over hundreds of years in Sweden.

“The worst of it is that they are in such a hurry. If they are going to abolish legal rights they should at least do it by democratic means,” said Eriksson.