A spokesman for the Swedish Armed Forces says “foreign vehicles” were seen close to where exercises were taking place and the Skillingaryd shooting range and the Hagshult air force base.
“It’s clear that foreign powers are interested in our know-how. They are gathering intelligence and information,” military spokesman Jan Bohman told local paper Värnamo Nyheter.
The military believes that the spies targeted both an internal Swedish exercise in early September and a European exercise in late August.
The European exercise, International Bison Counter, involved 1,000 military personnel from 20 countries, and was held under the auspices of the European Defence Agency project.
Asked which countries the suspected spies came from, the spokesman would only say they came “from the south and the east. I won’t say more than that”. But he added that “in certain cases criminal gangs can be interested in our equipment. It’s expensive equipment that they can earn money on”.
The Swedish military took the unusual step earlier this week of releasing a statement warning about “constant foreign intelligence gathering against Sweden and Swedish interests”. They opened a dedicated phone line for members of the public to provide tips about suspicious behavious.
“Society needs to act to take an active responsibility so that together we can prevent activity that poses a threat to security,” they wrote in the statement. They added that the southern parts of Sweden were particularly vulnerable.
The news comes amid heightened tensions in the Baltic Sea area. Sweden announced this week that it would permanently station 150 soldiers on the strategically important island of Gotland.