December 5, 2013
Swedish signals intelligence agency FRA spied on Russian leaders and shared the data collected with the US, local media report citing Edward Snowden leaks. Sweden’s ‘cable access’ made its position ‘unique’ in the eyes of the NSA.
The NSA eyes the FRA as a ‘leading partner’ among the US agencies foreign partners in the global data collection program, reported Sweden’s Sveriges Television (SVT) citing documents provided by the fugitive whistleblower through US journalist Glenn Greenwald.
“The FRA provided NSA … unique collection on high-priority Russian targets, such as leadership, internal politics,” reads one NSA document from dated April 18, 2013.
Ahead of a meeting with officials from FRA, NSA bosses were instructed to praise the Scandinavian partners, another said.
“Thank Sweden for its continued work on the Russian target, and underscore the primary role that FRA plays as a leading partner to work the Russian Target, including Russian leadership, … and … counterintelligence,” SVT cited it as saying.
“FRA’s cable access has resulted in unique SIGINT reporting on all of these areas,” it continues, using an abbreviation for signals intelligence.
The SVT report didn’t name any particular individuals and organizations in Russia, which were the subjects of FRA interest. It did not detail the exact methods, which the intelligence agency used to collect information, although the mentioning of cable may refer to internet traffic.
In 2011, the WikiLeaks website revealed US diplomatic cables, which said that FRA was able to monitor some 80 percent of Russia’s internet traffic, which passed through Sweden, and that the country had adopted a new wiretapping law to allow such actions due to Washington pressure.
Nils Hanson, chief editor of the swedish TV program ‘Mission: Investigate’ which helped break the latest Snowden leaks, told RT that while allegations of collaboration between the FRA and US intelligence were nothing new, “now we can show documents proving this relationship between Swedish authorities and the Americans.”
Currently the FRA is authorized to monitor cable-bound communications to track “external threats” against Sweden. Permits are authorized by a secret court, the Defense Intelligence Court.