WikiLeaks: Swedish government 'hid' anti-terror operations with America from Parliament
The Swedish government asked American officials to keep intelligence-gathering “informal” to help avoid Parliamentary scrutiny, American diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks show.
By Andrew Hough, and Christopher Hope 7:00AM GMT 15 Dec 2010
The secret cables, seen by The Daily Telegraph, disclose how Swedish officials wanted discussions about anti-terrorism operations kept from public scrutiny.
They describe how officials from the Swedish Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs had a “strong degree of satisfaction with current informal information sharing arrangements” with the American government.
Making the arrangement formal would result in the need for it to be disclosed to Parliament, they said.
They disclose officials’ fear that intense Swedish Parliamentary scrutiny could place “a wide range of law enforcement and anti-terrorism” operations in jeopardy.
Under the heading “teams visits to discuss terrorist screening information exchange with Sweden”, they show Dr Anna-Karin Svensson, Director of the Division for Police Issues, saying the Swedish government would strike controversy if its intelligence methods were disclosed.
The cable claimed that the "current Swedish political climate makes any formal terrorist screening information agreement highly difficult". Swedish citizens are said to place high value on the country’s neutrality.
"The MOJ team expressed their appreciation for the flexibility of the U.S. side in regards to memorialising any agreement," said the cable.
"They expressed a strong degree of satisfaction with current informal information sharing arrangements with the U.S., and wondered whether the putative advantages of an HSPD-6 agreement for Sweden would be offset by the risk that these existing informal channels, which cover a wide range of law enforcement and anti-terrorism co-operation, would be scrutinised more intensely by Parliament and perhaps jeopardised.
"Dr. Svensson reiterated MFA concerns about the current political atmosphere in Sweden."
It continued: "She believed that, given Swedish constitutional requirements to present matters of national concern to Parliament and in light of the ongoing controversy over Sweden's recently passed surveillance law, it would be politically impossible for the Minister of Justice to avoid presenting any formal data sharing agreement with the United States to Parliament for review.
"In her opinion, the effect of this public spotlight could also place other existing informal information sharing arrangements at jeopardy."
The publication of the new cables, sent to Washington from the American embassy in Stockholm in 2008, came after Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, was granted bail on Tuesday over sexual assault claims in Sweden.
Despite a judge ordering his release with strict conditions and £200,000 guarantee from high profile supporters, the Swedish authorities appealed, meaning the 39 year-old remains behind bars.
Wikileaks claimed the new cables, which discuss terrorist screening programs, added weight to suggestions that Sweden and America were engaged in “back room deals”.
Mark Stephens, Mr Assange’s lawyer, has claimed his client was facing a “show trial” and his case was politically motivated. The Swedish government denies the claims.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, a Wikileaks spokesman, said that the website was “concerned about political influence on the prosecution of Julian Assange”.
“The new revelations contained in the Swedish cables … shed some light on the ferocity of the Swedish prosecutorial process in this case,” he said.
“The prosecutor has said there is ‘no condition’ for bail that will satisfy them.”