SHARE
COPY LINK

SURVEILLANCE

Sweden’s spy laws need updating: Säpo

Swedish Security Service (Säpo) thinks that Swedish laws on espionage are outdated and the government called for an inquiry last year following the discovery of under-cover investigations in Sweden.

Sweden's spy laws need updating: Säpo

“Säpo have expressed the opinion that the scope of current espionage and intelligence operations has widened and changed in focus,” Thomas Kaevergard, secretary for a government commission of enquiry formed last year, told The Local.

Säpo discovered in 2009 that two Americans were conducting illegal, under-cover investigations in Sweden, the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily reported on Monday.

Since the discovery, Säpo has expressed the opinion that the existing legislation is outdated.

According to Säpo, foreign intelligence gatherers in Sweden are today less interested in military bases or airfields and more turned to political or research espionage.

There’s also an increased number of illicit espionage operations carried out by foreign agents in Sweden, spying on another nations or on its own citizens who are living on Swedish soil.

“It could be someone fooling fellow countrymen to give details about themselves, in order to map out activities of that country’s citizens in Sweden, “Kaevergaard said.

One such case was when a Chinese national was charged with unlawful intelligence gathering in 2009 against refugees of the Chinese Uyghur minority living in Sweden.

Earlier this year, the US embassy’s Surveillance Detection Unit (SDU) was the focus of an investigation by Sweden’s top prosecutor after reports surfaced in the media suggesting that the unit may have engaged in unlawful intelligence gathering.

However, in that case the prosecutor dropped the probe in early April because he was unable to gather sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations.

According to Kaevergaard, the laws surrounding illicit espionage operations came about during WWII when Sweden realised that there were foreign agents operating on Swedish soil carrying out espionage operations against other nations.

“But the origins of these laws are really old, they stem from the late 1800’s and have been updated a number of times during the first world war, the interwar period and the second world war,” Kaevergaard told The Local.

If Sweden can’t intervene in these cases the consequences could be detrimental to Sweden internationally, according to Kaevergaard.

“And while these agents are existing in Sweden, their activities could be turned against the country as well at any time,” he said.

Kaevergaard was not able to comment on any individual case but said that any instance where existing laws are tried and applied gives the enquiry more practical information on what, if anything, needs to be amended.

“In which case did it work and which didn’t? How was it applied, did it go to prosecution, what was the follow up? These are all questions that will help us assess how it is working today,” Kaevergaard told The Local.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ISLAM

Prominent Muslim head of free school seized by security police

The chief executive of a largely Muslim free school in Gothenburg has been placed in custody by the Swedish Migration Agency on the orders of the country's Säpo security police. It follows the arrests of other Imams in recent months.

Prominent Muslim head of free school seized by security police
He was seized on Wednesday and taken to an immigration detention centre in the city, Sweden's Expressen newspaper reported on Thursday
 
Abdel-Nasser el Nadi, chief executive of Vetenskapsskolan, is the fifth senior member of Sweden's Muslim community to be placed in custody in less than a month. 
 
Three prominent imams are now in custody: Abo Raad, imam of a mosque in Gävle, Hussein Al-Jibury, imam of a mosque in Umeå, and Fekri Hamad, imam of a mosque in Västerås. Raad's son is also being held. 
 
 
Sven-Erik Berg, the school's headmaster, told The Local that he had no idea what was behind the arrest. 
 
“We don't know anything. I don't know anything more than you,” he said. “We are doing nothing, but the school is naturally maintaining a dialogue with the Swedish School Inspectorate and their lawyers.” 
 
He said it was inaccurate to describe the school as a 'Muslim school' as it has no official confessional status. 
 
“The chief executive is a central person among Swedish Muslims, so naturally the group of people we recruit from are often those who have a relation to Islam or Sweden's Islamic associations,” he said. “But the school does not go around telling children what they should or shouldn't believe.”
 
On its website the school declares: “At our school everyone is treated equally irrespective of gender, religion, ethnic background, appearance, opinions, or abilities”. 
 
“We are one of the best schools in Gothenburg. You just have to look at the statistics,” Berg added.  
 
A spokesman for Säpo told Expressen that he could not comment on any of the five cases or on whether they were in some way linked. 
 
But according to the Swedish news site Doku, which investigates Islamic extremists, Säpo is probing whether el Nadi has any links to a network of Islamic militants.
 
In an article published last October, the site alleged that El Nadi's activism was part of the reason that so many young men from Gothenburg had travelled to fight for the terror group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. 
 
El-Nadi was previously the school's headmaster, and the school was in 2018 criticised by the Swedish School Inspectorate for not sufficiently promoting equality between girls and boys.
 
When he was interviewed by Dagens Nyheter a year ago, he asserted his loyalty to Sweden. 
 
“I have five children, all of whom were born in Sweden, a big family, and I want to protect this society in the same way that I have protected my children,” he said.  
 
El-Nadi was born in Egypt but has lived in Sweden since 1992. He has twice applied to become a Swedish citizen, in 2007 and 2011, and twice been rejected. 
   
 
 
SHOW COMMENTS