According to a whistleblower report, the US intelligence service NSA, with the help of its Danish counterpart, spied on targets in several countries, including Norway, Finland, and Sweden.
In an unexpected alliance, the Left and the Sweden Democrats, representing the opposite ends of the Swedish political spectrum, have teamed up in demanding an answer from the government about alleged US espionage.
Danish Radio earlier published a whistleblower report from the country’s Defence Intelligence Service (FE) about the US National Security Agency (NSA) spying against the Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish defence industries via access to the data centre on the island of Amager off Copenhagen. From there, the NSA reportedly targeted traffic from ministries and defence companies such as Denmark’s Terma and Sweden’s Saab.
According to Danish sources, the espionage took place at the same time as the Danish state moved to the final round of fighter aircraft procurement, in which Saab’s Gripen was a contender. The Danish state eventually bought 27 US-made F-35 fighter jets.
Left MP Håkan Svenneling asked Social Democrat Foreign Minister Ann Linde what measures the minister and the government in general have taken in connection with the reported espionage, while Sweden Democrat MP Björn Söder demanded an answer from Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist.
“This may have affected the Swedish defence industry in a very negative way and it must be clarified”, Söder explained to national broadcaster SVT, emphasising that the government has been “very slow to act”.
In response, Social Democrat Interior Minister Mikael Damberg stressed that the government is waiting for Denmark’s investigation and that he cannot comment on the “accuracy” of the information that has appeared in the media.
“On the other hand, of course, I and the relevant Swedish authorities follow the Danish investigation with great interest”, Damberg said, assuring that the government “takes very seriously all forms of espionage against Sweden”.
Norway previously launched talks with Denmark about the espionage allegations at defence minister level, involving Norway’s Frank Bakke-Jensen and Denmark’s Trine Bramsen.
According to Danish Radio, the NSA used the Amager data centre with its XKeyscore system, which was revealed in 2013 by whistleblower Edward Snowden and which is a key feature of the NSA’s entire interception apparatus. The programme allows for a large amount of data in fibre cables to sifted through with the help of “selectors”, which are keywords such as the names of people in top positions in target organisations.
Founded in 1937, Saab AB is one of Sweden’s leading defence companies. Between 1947 and 1990 it served as the parent company of renowned car manufacturer Saab Automobile. Its main focus, however, is and has been fighter aircraft, combat weapons, missile systems, torpedoes, sensor systems, and unmanned underwater vehicles, as well as airborne surveillance solutions, radars, and means of electronic warfare. With some 17,000 employees, Saab is seen as the backbone of Sweden’s military-industrial complex.