Scandinavians launch probes into US spying activities
November 9, 2010 3 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Norway, Sweden and Denmark have launched official investigations into media reports that accuse US embassies in Scandinavian countries of operating illegal intelligence gathering networks. The issue first emerged last Wednesday, when a report by Norway’s TV2 channel alleged that the US embassy in Oslo maintained a network of around 20 local former police and intelligence officers, who were conducting “illegal systematic surveillance of Norwegian citizens”. According to TV2, the surveillance network was tasked with collecting visual and physical intelligence on individuals “thought to pose a threat to American interests”. The US Department of State responded to the allegations by arguing that the US embassy had “fully informed” the Norwegian authorities of the surveillance activities. But Norwegian investigations expressed fears that the intelligence collection, which dates back to 2000, may constitute a violation of Norwegian diplomatic legislation, and have launched an investigation into the affair. Late last week, media reports from Denmark and Sweden suggested that similar surveillance operations are conducted out of the US embassies in Copenhagen and Stockholm. Speaking to Danish newspaper Politiken, former National Police Commissioner Hans Jørgen Bonnichsen said that a closed parliamentary hearing will be conducted in the next weeks to examine whether the US has been conducting espionage on Danish soil. A formal criminal investigation has also been launched in Sweden, to establish whether the US broke the country’s espionage laws without informing local authorities. Finally, in Finland, the country’s Security Police (SUPO) has announced it is trying to ascertain whether US embassy officials authorized surveillance operations involving networks of local informants.