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Finnish Security Police to investigate possible US surveillance work in Finland
American Embassy in Sweden had 2,000 Swedes under surveillance
The Finnish Security Police (SUPO) says that it will be in contact with the US Embassy in Helsinki to ascertain the current state of security activities at the embassy.
The moves come after revelations that the American embassies in Norway and Sweden had kept hundreds of citizens of those countries under surveillance without the knowledge of the governments of those countries.
Sweden’s minister of Justice Beatrice Ask confirmed on Saturday that the US Embassy in Stockholm has the same kind of Surveillance Detection Unit (SDU), which it also has in Norway, Denmark, and Germany.
“I feel that this is very serious”, Ask said.
The Swedish Security Police (SÄPO) confirmed that an SDU has operated in Stockholm, but it did not say if it operated in the same way as the unit in Norway.
American Embassy officials in Stockholm have said that the US is ready to answer all questions put to it by the Swedish government on the SDU. The embassy insists that it only used legal means for information gathering.
Norway’s TV2 revealed last week that former employees of the Norwegian Security Police and Defence Forces had been paid by the Americans to spy on hundreds of Norwegians.
In Norway, the SDU took down the names of participants in demonstrations in violation of Norwegian law. The information was added to US records on terrorism.
SUPO has not known of the existence of a Surveillance Detection Unit at the US Embassy in Finland.
Helsingin Sanomat has learned that Finnish counter-surveillance officials do not believe that the Americans have engaged in the same kinds of operations as have taken place in Sweden and Norway, because the threat of terrorist acts against the embassy in Finland is considered to be considerably smaller than in other Nordic Countries.
“We have no indications that anything illegal would have taken place”, says Liinu Lehto-Seljavaara, head of communications at the Finnish Security Police. She adds that the boundary between illegal surveillance and legitimate security measures taken by a foreign embassy is a “line drawn in water”.
Finland’s Minister of the Interior Anne Holmlund (Nat. Coalition Party), who is responsible for issues of internal security, did not return a call from Helsingin Sanomat. There was also no comment from the US Embassy in Helsinki.