Night raids on the workplace, searches of bank safes, mapping of eating habits and so-called dead mailboxes.
These are some of the ingredients in the spy mess that became known to Swedes in September last year. But in fact, the suspected mole is believed to have had access to Swedish secrets for several years.
The older brother has, among other things, worked with counter-espionage at Säpo. According to media reports, he should also have worked at the Office for Special Acquisition (KSI) – the most secret part of Swedish intelligence.
“Among the best in the world”
This means that the tangle can be significantly worse than, for example, the classic spy scandals Stig Bergling and Stig Wennerström. Intelligence expert Joakim von Braun believes so.
– I don’t want to use the word scandal. Sweden has a formidable opponent in the Russian intelligence services. They are among the best in the world and have been going for over 100 years. But I think this is the worst case we have had in Sweden, he says and continues:
– The only thing that has come to light is that they have obtained a list of all employees within Säpo. That alone is a big problem because Russian intelligence focuses on human sources.
When the trial now begins against the brothers, it is with a large security effort. Everyone involved has been security checked and the media are only allowed to be present on a few and short occasions.
“A big risk that they could get very bad”
Could lives have been in danger?
– If it is the case that he has come across information about people who work for Sweden in other countries, there is of course a great risk that they could end up very badly.
How much damage the brothers may have caused to Sweden is difficult to say as almost all information is classified to protect the security of the kingdom. It is also not easy to say how long it may take to repair any damage.
“The Russians are incredibly skilled”
At the same time, it is difficult to protect oneself against so-called moles.
– The Russians are incredibly skilled. Communication methods are used that make the risk of detection as small as possible, says Joakim von Braun.
So what exactly makes Swedes start spying on their motherland? Some driving forces can be discerned in one report around known espionage cases in Europe since 2010.
– To the extent that there is a motive for the individual, money is often indicated, quite a few cases in Europe are also about coercion. Then it could be that you feel dissatisfied with how your career is developing or that you feel flattered by the recruiter’s attention, says Michael Jonsson, research leader at the Total Defense Research Institute (FOI).
Hear FOI tell more about the driving forces in the clip above.