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Sweden's Top Secret Agreement with NSA Revealed

Revealed by Snowden documents. Agreement dates back to 1954.


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DUCKPOND USA (Rixstep) — Swedish state television SVT, right under the noses of those who control them, recently began publishing secret documents obtained by Edward Snowden.

These documents reveal the secret agreement of Sweden's signals surveillance agency FRA (Försvarets radioanstalt) with the NSA and the GCHQ.

This secret agreement dates back all the way to the 1950s.

Closer Together

The Snowden documents establish that Sweden has been a part of the so-called UKUSA intel agreement between the US and the UK, together with other partners. Their bands were drawn even tighter in 2004 with new top secret bilateral agreements between the NSA, the GCHQ, and the Swedish FRA.

'NSA:s relationship with the Swedish SIGINT service Försvarets radioanstalt (FRA) was established in 1954 under the UKUSA agreement.'



The documents do not reveal the name of the agreement, but there's one name that recurs regularly: SWEDUSA.

Political Dynamite

The US are very aware that the agreement is political dynamite for Sweden. In a document from 6 June 2006 the NSA wrote:

'The relationship with Sweden is protected at the TOP SECRET level because of that nation's political neutrality.'

And all the while, the FRA have staunchly insisted they only serve the interests of Sweden, with the Swedish government being their sole commissioner.

The smokescreen continued through the controversial campaign for widened authority under the government of Rove apprentice Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and notorious right wing foreign minister Carl Bildt.



'There is no one else but the government of Sweden who can tell us what to do, no one else', said FRA general director Dag Hartelius in an interview with state television as recently as this year.

But the NSA write like this about the relationship of the NSA and the GCHQ with Sweden's FRA, formalised in a special top secret agreement:

'The paper [...] requires both of us to keep the other informed as to what we are doing with the FRA, and requires the FRA to dedupe [sic] if both GCHQ and we are separately asking for the same or similar exchange.'

Swedish Sound Bites

The TOP SECRET//COMINT//NOFORN agreement, dated 18 April 2013, has a number of choice sound bites. Herewith a teaser.

'NSA's relationship with FRA was established in 1954 under the UKUSA agreement.'

'NSA's relationship with the FRA, an extremely competent, technically innovative, and trusted Third Party partner, continues to grow. The FRA provided NSA with access to its cable collection in 2011, providing unique collection on high-priority Russian targets such as leadership, internal politics, and energy.

'NSA's Data Acquisition is actively engaged with the FRA, which has numerous collection sites and is proficient in collecting a wide variety of communications.'


Download the full document from the link below.

(TS//SI) Therefore, we drafted a paper that was signed by NSA's Principal Director for Foreign Affairs, GCHQ's head of Foreign Relations, and the Director General of Sweden's SIGINT Service (FRA), allowing NSA to deal with the FRA on COMINT issues without pre-coordination with GCHQ.

The paper also requires both of us to keep the other informed as to what we are doing with the FRA, and requires the FRA to dedupe if both GCHQ and we are separately asking for the same or similar exchanges.

As a result of this change, our COMINT relationship with the FRA has burgeoned on both sides. The relationship with Sweden is protected at the TOP SECRET level because of that nation's political neutrality.

 - NSA Security Paper 18 April 2013 'NSA Intelligence Relationship with Sweden'

See Also
SVT: NSA Intelligence Relationship with Sweden (PDF)

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