By Andrew Kreig, Jur Dr, Director of Justice Integrity Project – JIP.
Member of The Indicter Editorial Board *.
Martin Fredriksson, a winner of a major investigative reporting prize in 2014 for his work exposing right-wing groups opposed to NATO, has been secretly paid for years by SÅPO, the Swedish Security Service, according to news reports based on his own admissions.
In deep intrigue that resembles a spy novel, Fredriksson’s story undermines conventional wisdom on both sides of the Atlantic that journalists must work independently from power centers, including government agencies.
Also, the tale is timely, especially because of Sweden’s ongoing persecution of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and new revelations by the transparency advocacy group involving Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.
Authorities have targeted Assange for what appears to be a trumped up sex scandal probe that has extended for nearly six years, apparently in reprisal for massive and ongoing disclosures by WikiLeaks of Western governments’ dark secrets.
More generally, United States and NATO pressures upon European leaders are tainting the latter’s carefully nurtured images of independence.
Sweden, which has long boasted of an official position of neutrality in world affairs and close adherence to humanitarian and democratic principles under a rule of law, has already hurt its image by the Assange case. The fallout includes a ruling last month by a United Nations panel that Assange’s political asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition amounts to “arbitrary detention” under international law.
The Indicter, a start-up global human rights commentary site, underscored in columns March 6 and March 13 the sinister implications of the revelations, especially the seemingly odd mixture of Fredriksson’s advocacy against Assange and in favor of NATO. It revealed, for example, that Fredriksson used his clout to lobby for Amnesty International opposition to Assange.
The editor is Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, a longtime Swedish medical school professor and human rights advocate. He drew on disclosures March 2 about Fredriksson in SVD (Svenska Dagblade t, or Swedish Daily) to illustrate a broader theme: that Swedish officials and thought leaders defer far more to the United States and authoritarian policies than commonly understood in liberal democracies, including Sweden.
Sweden’s highly irregular investigation of Assange illustrates his thesis.
Ecuador granted Assange political asylum in its London embassy three and half years ago to protect him from a relentless effort by Swedish authorities to extradite him for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations arising from two affairs he undertook from invitations by women attending his featured speech at an August 2010 conference in Sweden.
Assange submitted to questioning about the claims from the two women, who had separately invited him to stay with them. Authorities have never charged him with a crime but they have mounted an extraordinary campaign to extradite him to Sweden for further questioning after he left the country.
Assange has denied any criminal violation. Also, he has argued unsuccessfully in British courts that the investigation has been a ruse to extradite him to Sweden so he could then be extradited to the United States to face reported but still-secret U.S. charges. Assange is not subject to extradition directly from Britain to the United States.
U..S. charges are reported to arise from WikiLeaks disclosures that angered and embarrassed officials in the United States, Britain, Sweden and elsewhere in Western governments and private power centers.
Another of reports was Partner at Firm Counseling Assange’s Accusers Helped the CIA In Rendition for Torture. It revealed that Thomas BodstrÃ¶m, a former Justice Minister and name partner in the law firm that has used the two women to level sexual misconduct allegations against Assange, had previously cooperated with the CIA when he was Sweden’s top justice official to send at the CIA’s request an asylum seeker from Sweden to Egypt, where the man was tortured by Egyptian authorities. Bodstrom later moved to the United States and wrote spy thrillers.
The more general background of the recent disclosures includes mention of Sweden’s history of neutrality, including during World War II, as well as its more recent reputation for sinister activities fostered by the assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme and the sensational literary and film success of the characters created by the late novelist Stieg Larsson in the Millennium Trilogy of crime novels.
Earlier this month, the Indicter published a column headlined Olof Palme and Julian Assange subjected in Sweden to same hate campaign by the same political forces and with the same purpose: to defend U.S. geopolitical interests. The column commemorated the 30th anniversary of Palme, who had criticized the Vietnam War years earlier. This editor is on the Indicter’s board of directors, whose other board members are primarily European.
The circumstances of the Palme death remain controversial, albeit beyond the scope of today’s column. Perhaps most relevant is that the Indictor’s editor, Ferrada de Noli, was a torture victim of the Chile’s late U.S.-supported dictator, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, and has long worked in Europe with kindred spirits to expose and prevent similar human rights abuses.
Pinochet succeeded the assassinated Chilean President Salvatore Allende in a coup and ruled Chile from 1974 to 1990.
Aside from his medical school work, two of Ferrada de Noli’s most frequent topics as an editor and commentator have been legal irregularities connected with the Assange case and the complacency of Sweden’s conventional thought leaders in the media and legal systems. In a 2011 column The “Duck Pond” Theses: Explaining Swedish journalism and the anti-Assange smear campaign. the professor accused many in the media of succumbing to group-think like so many ducks in a pond.
Another such myth-shatterer was Larsson, who died in 2004 just after his 50th birthday. He was a Swedish journalist who researched right-wing extremism, experiences he drew upon for his breakthrough first novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
It and two sequels, all published after Larsson’s death, chronicled the adventures of fictional heroes Lisbeth Salander, a much-abused computer hacker, and journalist Mikael Blomkvist, her friend and fellow researcher into sinister demonic figures using respectable fronts in Sweden. The journalist Blomkvist and Salander are featured also in films and Larsson’s novels The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.
The kind of murder, terror and intrigue fueling hit spy novels and movies inevitably exceeds that in real life, at least as far as most of us can read in the newspapers or reliably know.
Nonetheless, there are at least some parallels between the Swedish world of Salander/Blomkvst and that of the more sedate journalist Martin Fredriksson, the award-winning investigative report and paid police asset.
This Month’s Martin Fredriksson Revelations
That background brings us to Fredriksson, who achieved honor in Swedish media circles primarily by investigating right-wing organizations. The account below is from a news report March 2 in Svenska Dagbladet (SVD), one of Sweden’s leading daily newspapers, under the headline, When the real Salander sold out to SÄPO.
Reporter Sam Sundberg described how Fredriksson had just release a “bomb” on Twitter by revealing his status for many years as a paid SÃ¤po informant during a time when he was active in the Antifascist Action and Research Group. The following translation of the article from Swedish to English is primarily via the Google automatic translation tool, with slight revisions by a non-Swedish-speaking editor to comport with more standard English.
“Fredriksson is best known as co-founder in the journalist community of the Research Group, which conducted an extensive digging job of the right-wing’s digital activities. In cooperation with the Expressen and Aftonbladet newspapers, he revealed the anonymous authors of racist sites Exposed, Free Times and Avpixlat and hateful writers on the web forum Flashback.
“For a collaboration with Expressen, Fredriksson, along with five colleagues in the Research Group, has been awarded the guldspaden, one of Sweden’s greatest prizes for investigative journalism. He has also worked as a researcher for Robert Aschberg TV show “Insider.”
“During the 2000s, Fredriksson spied on the extreme right as a part of the left group Antifascist Action Intelligence. In other words, he is one of those who had the best insight into the activity on both the political front flanks of the past decade. By his own account, it was only the investigations of violent right-wing that he handed over to the Security Service. But it is clear from the comments in social media that even his former allies now shivering”In the activist groups where Martin Fredriksson thrived, there is a general revulsion against the idea of collaborating with the security police, but also a nervousness that Fredriksson may have leaked information about their own activities. Several of Fredriksson’s old colleagues have now hurried to distance themselves from him, including the Research Group. On their website, they write that SÃ¤po-cooperation took place before the group was formed.
“But that is not consistent with Fredriksson’s own Twitter confession, in which he writes that the second period of the collaboration occurred in 2009 – 2010. The Research Group was formed in autumn 2009.”
The Indicter’s follow up
The Indicter then followed up March 6 with a Ferrada de Noli column, Former paid agent of Swedish Security Police dictated Amnesty Sweden’s stance against Assange, placing the story into a broader context.
One finding involved efforts by Foreign Minister Carl Bildt to steer Sweden’s foreign policy toward the views of the United States and NATO. Bildt, shown in a photo with Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was foreign minister from 2006-20014, and previous served as both prime minister and leader of the Moderate Party.
Also, the Indicter showed how authorities wanted to crack down hard on Assange Affair because the WikiLeaks he founded had released so many secret cables embarrassing Western officials and enlightening the public about diplomatic chatter that is normally secret.
The article focused in detail on Fredriksson’s use of his reputation as a left-leaning journalist to persuade Sweden’s Amnesty International chapter to disdain Assange, whose court case might normally be expected to attract sympathy from a human rights group.
The Indicter published a second follow up on March 13, Paid agent of Swedish security services implicated in second disinformation campaign against Assange. The column analyzed a radio/podcast series created by a research group that Fredriksson founded in 2007 with funding that is secret and identified a systematic anti-Assange and fierce anti-Russia bias, “particularly targeting Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.”
The last word goes to Swedish journalists, including Fredriksson and Sundberg, author of the SVD column March 2. Sundberg quotes leftish activist, Peter Sunde, co-founder of The Pirate Bay, as asking on Twitter why he should trust that Fredriksson has not leaked chat logs to the Security Service.
Sunde served a year in prison after convictions for copyright violations. The Pirate Bay was a controversial file-sharing search engine developed in Sweden in 2003. It is different (albeit with some overlapping support) from the Pirate Party, founded in 2006, and now Sweden’s third largest political party with affiliates elsewhere in Europe.
Sunde also wrote on Twitter to his onetime Pirate Bay colleague Fredriksson: “Good luck with the loneliness.”
Fredriksson, however, has described himself as a former Security Service agent, saying he wants to get rid of his past and live more normally. “I am transparent about this,” he was quoted as saying, “and tell you now, even though I did not directly profit from it.”
“On the other hand,” the SVD reporter Sundberg wrote of Fredriksson, “he is writing a book about its history: The thrilling documentary thriller about the struggle between left and right violence, and when the real Salander sold out to SÃ¤po.”
“With the right agent (a literary one),” the reporter continued, “it will be a bestseller.”
* Published on the Justice Integrity Project site is an expanded version of this column with an extensive appendix of relevant articles and links.
* The text above was published in a 3-page edition by OpEdNews, 17 March 2016
Editor’s Note: We have extended this eminent column by Andre Kreig with the republication (excerpts) of a most interesting background on the case #Assange, which the author shared in The Professors’ Blog.
From: “Partner At Firm Counseling Assange’s Accusers Helped In CIA Torture Rendition”:
Update:Borgström wrote me (January 13th) to stress that this column should reflect that he, not Bodström, represents the two women involved in the Assange matter. At least in the United States and with a small firm, a client is usually ascribed to a firm both in common parlance and for certain formal purposes, such as conflict-of-interest checks. But the original headline is being adjusted to avoid confusion. Other updates are below in the comment section.
The legal reform project I founded last year got its start investigating the kinds of political prosecutions that became notorious in the United States during the Bush administration in 2007 after revelations that the Justice Department had purged nine U.S. attorneys for political reasons the previous year. Digging deep in such cases, one often finds that some prosecutors use every possible tool to destroy a target under the guise of enforcing the law.
Let’s start with a Wikipedia bio.
Thomas Lennart Bodström is a Swedish politician and member of the Swedish Social Democratic Party. He was the Swedish Minister for Justice in the two last succeeding governments of the Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson, from 2000 to 2006. Since October 2006 until October 2010 he was the chairman of the Riksdags committee for juridical issues….
Thomas Bodström is the son of Lennart Bodström, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs 1982–1985 in the Olof Palme government. In his youth, however, Thomas Bodström was not involved in party politics. Instead, his first brush with media attention came as a football player… He took interest in international affairs and in 1999 he joined the board of the Swedish branch of the international organisation Lawyers Without Borders.
Swedish officials just looked on while US agents mistreated Mohammad Alzery, along with fellow Eyptian Ahmed Agiza, at Stockholm’s Bromma Airport,” according to the news report. “This very serious indeed for Sweden,” said Anna Wigenmark, a lawyer at human rights group the Swedish Helsinki Committee, who represented Alzery at the UN.
Bodström has long minimized this role authorizing the 2001 rendition. He and former Prime Minister Göran Persson have said that decision-making was a group-effort, with the key choices made by then-Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, who was assassinated in 2003. Bodström said that he only became aware of CIA involvement Jan. 7, 2002 at a meeting with the then-head of the security police, Säpo.
Atttorney Andrew Kreig, J.D., M.S.L., is a Washington, DC-based author, investigative reporter, attorney, and non-profit executive who founded the Justice Integrity Project (www.justice-integrity.org) to expose threats to democracy and human rights. Active in researching political prosecutions, torture, illegal surveillance, and media bias, his most recent book is Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and their Masters (www.presidentialpuppetry.com). Andrew Kreig began his career as a reporter with the Hartford Courant, America’s oldest (1764) newspaper still in publication, and obtained law degrees from Yale and the University of Chicago. He has since written and spoken widely for mainstream and alternative audiences. These include appearances on more than a hundred commercial broadcast stations, lectures on five continents, and human rights reports for the Huffington Post and The Professors’ Blog.