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Swede ‘secret agent' for three countries: report

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Swede ‘secret agent' for three countries: report
15:43 CEST+02:00
Newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) on Monday revealed the existence of a triple-agent in Sweden, a man who goes under the name “Joseph” and who has allegedly been carrying out intelligence gathering for Sweden, Britain and Libya at the same time.

“It is probably more of an exception than a rule that someone works for three nations at the same time, especially considering one of these was Libya,” terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp told The Local.

The man, who is a resident in Sweden, lives in a small town, has kids and is surviving on a meagre income. Yet, he has been able to travel extensively abroad, the paper reports. As recently as a few weeks ago, Joseph was in Libya, where he allegedly met with Libyan rebel leader Abdel Hakim Belhadj.

However, when contacted by the paper, "Joseph" is adamant he is not a spy.

“You're talking to the wrong person, okay. You know nothing, you don't know what it is all about,” he told DN.

But a four pages long report from the British intelligence service MI6, which came into the hands of the organization Human Rights Watch after the fall of the Libyan regime, has given experts insight into how he was recruited by the British in Manchester in 2003.

“'Joseph' brought with him the names of eleven Muslims in Sweden which he thought were potential terrorists or collaborators. He also brought documents regarding a Muslim organization in Sweden,” the fax said, according to the paper.

The fax also showed that Joseph was in contact with both former Libyan leader Muammar Quaddafi's security service ESO and the Swedish security service, Säpo, according to the paper.

Dagens Nyheter reports that the man who goes under the name Joseph is in his mid-forties and came to Sweden as a political refugee in the 1980s. He became a Swedish citizen and is now registered in a rental apartment in a small Swedish town.

At one point he was working illegally as an unregistered cab driver and he has also worked in a shop. He is known to police for beating up two of his previous girlfriends and was recently caught shoplifting in a store, according to the paper.

In Sweden he is established in the Muslim community and is said to “know everybody”.

Although Säpo never comments on individual cases their annual report names Libya as one of the countries that have had spy presence in Sweden. According to DN, several of these have been identified by authorities and deported.

And according to Ranstorp, it is unusual that an individual would be tied to the intelligence service of three countries at the same time.

“If this document is real, then I think it is a sign of the times. There was frantic activity after 9/11 and everyone tried to establish contacts in key countries,” Ranstorp said.

The document mentions a connection between Joseph and Säpo only fleetingly, but although there is nothing in the document that indicates that the Swedes were informed of the British-Libyan connection, Ranstorp is pretty certain Säpo would have been aware.

“They have had a pretty good overview of anyone who could constitute a ‘problem',” he told The Local.

Rebecca Martin

Follow Rebecca on Twitter here.

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