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Secrecy slows probe of US embassy surveillance

The Local · 3 Mar 2011, 11:34

Published: 03 Mar 2011 14:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Mar 2011 11:34 GMT+01:00

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“I must say it wasn’t unexpected,” prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand told The Local.

Since November, Lindstrand has been looking into whether the embassy's Surveillance Detection Unit (SDU) may have engaged in illegal intelligence gathering.

According to the embassy, the SDU is focused on uncovering surveillance directed against the embassy.

Lindstrand has been in touch with around ten people who have been active in the embassy's programme, but all of them have refused to answer the prosecutor's questions, citing professional secrecy.

“They have however declared that they don’t want to discuss the matter,” Lindstrand said.

“It’s a shame because it’s really slowing down the investigation.”

While not entirely surprised by the embassy workers' unwillingness to testify, Lindstrand suggested that there was more than one way to interpret workplace confidentiality.

“The people working at the US embassy read the rule book in a way that you can’t really argue with, although it could have been interpreted differently,” he said.

Speaking with Sveriges Radio (SR), Lindstrand said the US State Department in Washington is looking into the possibility of lifting the gag clause for those involved in the SDU programme, which is in place at a number of US embassies around the world

US embassy spokesperson Chris Dunnett told SR he had not been informed about any problems with Lindstrand's investigation.

“I can’t see any difficulties, we are fully co-operating with the Swedish authorities”, he told SR.

Story continues below…

Justice minister Beatrice Ask, said in November that she was not aware of the US surveillance programme, which has been in place since 2000.

The embassy has acknowledged the programme, explaining that it had informed the Swedish authorities about its existence.

Attempts by The Local to reach the US embassy for comment were unsuccessful.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:21 March 3, 2011 by Njal
"I can't see any difficulties, we are fully co-operating with the Swedish authorities"

-then answer their (Swedes)questions.
21:47 March 3, 2011 by countrysidedrive
I read this article and I am not sure what or who the US is watching. But I have always felt that if you have nothing to hide than who cares if they watch you take your kids to school, go to the docs, eat, go to the toilet or sleep. Its only the criminals that need to worry. And isn't Sweden on the US's team. Why do they care if we watch yours and our enemies. Its for both our benefits. So anyone complaining I suspect your true intension are not for the benefit of our societies. Maybe you need to be watched.
01:04 March 4, 2011 by SarahPalin

The answer is privacy.

You have nothing to hide, put a camera in your bedroom will ya?
01:20 March 4, 2011 by RadioBob
Who of you are actually so naive as to think that your own country's embassies around the world do not take part in similar activities? Right, wrong or indifferent, this has been going on - worldwide - since embassies existed. Get a grip on reality, folks.
07:01 March 4, 2011 by Cakid
Agree with RadioBob. It only seems prudent that embassies monitor their surroundings to see if anything suspcious and potentially harmful to the embassy exists. Apparently in Oslo, this involved the U.S. renting office space near embassy grounds to see if anyone was watching it. With the American embassy in Stockholm being well isolated from crowds on embassy row there, I don't why offsite buildings would be necessary, but facts are few here.
10:11 March 4, 2011 by Liquidmonkey
if they have nothing to hide then they should answer the questions, right?

and since when does 'fully cooperating' include NOT answering questions?
11:54 March 4, 2011 by johnny1939
"illegal intelligence gathering" is there any other kind?
11:58 March 4, 2011 by muscle

Its not whether the US or other countries keep a watch on people in some other country. Yes, that is actually not a big deal. But whats important is, the government of Sweden isn,t aware of who or what people are being monitored. The problems arises when the ministers and politicians get monitored! They can get blackmailed! They can be pressurised to take actions according to the wishes of US. Not just related US but other countries can also pressurise the governments like this.

Or may be, I am thinking too much. But these are just a few major problems that I see here.

Nobody care what I or you guys do. Seriously, the world has better problems to handle then my and your problems. But normally these activities are performed based on strategic decisions! And embassies do play a major role in changing the enviornment of a country!
12:10 March 4, 2011 by Liquidmonkey
this must be how the USA put pressure on TPB trial and now on JA.

is anyone really surprised?
12:13 March 4, 2011 by laura ka baal
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
13:28 March 4, 2011 by swedeb
They are only watching and monitoring the people around the embassy. Why do any of you care? There's already been 2 bomb threats against the embassy in the last 6 months and of course lets not forget the suicide bomber in downtown Stockholm. Stockholm is not safe little Stockholm like it was in the past. The US is of course at the center of the heat as it has always been. So why do you insist on taking away the safety of the American AND SWEDISH citizens that work at the embassy? You act as if every good citizen is being watched and there are 1000s of undercover agents walking among you. You guys are paranoid.
16:46 March 4, 2011 by rufus.t.firefly
Nothing has been revealed in this article. Not whether the embassy is spying in the normal sense of the word, just securing the embassy and monitoring the area, or informing Swedish authorities of their activities, whatever they are. There is virtually no information here.
17:09 March 4, 2011 by Zala Russe
If they won't answer questions then why not 'waterboard' it out of them? After all the US doesn't regard the method as torture. They won't object.
23:04 March 6, 2011 by muscle
TO all those who are relating the picture of the CAMERA in this article, with the article! ITS NOT RELATED TO KEEPING A WATCH AROUND the embassy! Read the whole story first, follow the previous news that is, please so that you can understand the context!
03:33 March 8, 2011 by Tom Billesley

" if they have nothing to hide then they should answer the questions, right? "

ROTFL. How many times is that said to suspects by police on TV dramas?

Liberal left is always paradoxically so illiberal and quick to adopt totalitarian habits.
08:37 March 9, 2011 by Thomas Dolby
If the US violated laws, then perhaps their embassy should be closed and they be kicked out of Sweden. But, hey, it's the US, this will never happen.
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