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Paid agent of Swedish security services implicated in second disinformation campaign against Assange

Julian Assange featured image in The Indicter 11 March 2016

By Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli.

Chairman of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights

This article was originally published in The Indicter

In the first part of this series [1] The Indicter exposed that a former paid agent of Sweden’s Security Police had intervened with Amnesty Sweden (the Swedish section of Amnesty International), directly dictating its negative stance towards Julian Assange.

In this article I analyse whether Swedish government security agents, or ‘former agents’, have been further involved in a disinformation campaign against the founder of WikiLeaks and its whistleblower publishing. An important source here is the activity of Researchgruppen, the journalist-collective organization led by Martin Fredriksson, a former paid agent of the Swedish Security Police – or, as it’s better known by its Swedish acronym, SÄPO. [2]

Researchgruppen’s anti-Assange broadcasting

Researchgruppen receiving guldspadePicture above: Researchgruppen receiving the award “Guldspade” for “Sweden’s best investigative journalism”. Martin Fredriksson at centre in the picture. Researchgruppen was also nominated for “Stora Journalist Priset” in 2014. Researchgruppen collaborates with Expressen, Swedish Radio, Uppdrag Granskning (at the State TV), TV4 ‘and others’. Source: SvT.

Researchgruppen is an organization founded by Martin Fredriksson and others in 2010 (while he was still a paid agent of SÄPO) that claims to target extreme right-wing or right-conservative parties, organizations that, however, all share a staunch opposition to the incorporation of Sweden into NATO. Researchgruppen has also received support and assignments from Expressen, [5] one of the main Swedish evening newspapers, well-known for leading an earlier campaign against WikiLeaks and Assange on behalf of the previous Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt. [6] The funding of Researchgruppen is secret as it is registered as part of Seppuku Media Ekonomisk Förening, whose nominal owner is  Martin Fredriksson [7]. This company was founded in 2007 at a time when Martin Fredriksson was working as an agent for SÄPO. [4] Fredriksson’s Researchgruppen, now led by Mathias Wåg, runs a broadcasting program called “My Special Interests” (Mina Specialintressen). [8]

The My Special Interests programs are podcasts in which the ex-SÄPO agent and guests – occasionally including other collaborators working as SÄPO agents, besides Fredriksson – share opinions on topics built around the political and geopolitical stances of Researchgruppen. Many of these stances are, in fact, very similar to the views held by prominent Swedish politicians who have been exposed by WikiLeaks as having provided information to US intelligence services, such as in the case of former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. [9]

A prominent characteristic of the podcasts is their harsh criticism of Julian Assange, combined with a fierce anti-Russian bias – particularly targeting Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. The podcasts – so far 22 programs have been produced – are each about one hour long. I have therefore randomised a sample, which gave the following findings.

An ‘influential agent’ working for Russia?

In the podcast N°15, Crossfit, Martin Fredriksson asks the interviewee ’Marlene’ – completely out of the blue while she is talking about her interest in a TV series – whether she is also interested in the Assange case. Without waiting for her reply, Fredriksson says, repeatedly, ”Assange is a clown” and adds ”Assange has worked very hard to lower his credibility, successively and systematically”. The woman finally responds: “What I think of Assange is, first it was up, like the sun, and then down, flat as a pancake. He was idealised. Then came the rape charges [sic] and that he refused to come to Sweden; he fell like a…”

Joakim von Braun - close-up from image at idg.seThe main guest in the podcast N° 16, The spy that came from the cold, is Joakim von Braun [photo at right], another agent previously working at SÄPO according to the description in the program presentation. [10] Other sources indicate that he also worked at the Office for Special Collection, a spy agency which is part of the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service (MUST, Militära underrättelse- och säkerhetstjänsten) and “one of the most secret parts of the Swedish Armed Forces.” [11] Von Braun is a founder of the organization Sweden’s Eye and Ear (Föreningen Sveriges Öga och Öra). [12]

In this program Martin Fredriksson compares Julian Assange to the Swedish Nazi leader Marc Abramsson [13] and asks the podcast’s guest interviewee how the appearances of Assange and Abramsson on Russian media channels fit into “Russia’s media strategy”. To which the SÄPO spy Von Braun replies:

“They have always been clever on that, I mean, KGB has always worked with social disinformation, with influential agents.”

“So, what is the definition of an ‘influential agent’?” ex-SÄPO agent Martin Fredriksson asks ex-SÄPO agent Von Braun. The answer:

“The definition of an ‘influential agent’ is a person that acts not only out of their own opinions but on behalf of, for instance, the stances of the Soviet Union or those of Russia.”

The dialogue above occurs against a backdrop of the most blatant propaganda I have ever heard in a Swedish broadcast transmission, perhaps only comparable with the Swedish Radio program Studio 1. [14] Fredriksson maintains, for instance, that Russia did not really help the forces combating Franco during the Spanish Civil War (meaning they provided no real help to the communists, anarchists, partisans and international brigade fighters during the conflict), but only used the War as a testing ground for its arsenal.

In this program statements are made comparing Putin to Mussolini, that “Russia will soon become a ‘absolute totalitarian’ dictatorship”, that “Russia just wants to recover its old Tsarist prestige”, and other comments that the Swedish public is used to hearing or reading from the Swedish Armed Forces, media and politicians who lobby for Sweden’s membership of NATO. “Putin controls all the media apparatus, exclusively, all the media apparatus”, says one guest in the Researchgruppen podcast. Ex-Military Intelligence agent Joakim Von Braun fills in: “I call him a dictator.”

Researchgruppen’s anti-Assange campaign on Twitter

While Martin Fredriksson was CEO at Researchgruppen the organization campaigned hard against the WikiLeaks founder using its Twitter account for ad hominem attacks. A list of these tweets can be seen in this link.

The account @researchgruppen issued nearly 100 tweets attacking Wikileaks and Julian Assange over a two-year period.

Similar campaigns in the Swedish mainstream media against Julian Assange and the organization WikiLeaks are described in my book Sweden vs Assange. Human Rights Issues and Political Background” [15]

Conclusion

I have followed the Sweden vs Assange case since it started in 2010. The political character of the case against WikiLeaks has become increasingly clear over the years. [16] In 2011, I did research based on Swedish mainstream media references to the case and to Julian Assange in particular. The results were that, among the articles which referred to Assange’s personal character or clearly implied features of his personality (40 per cent of the total articles), far more articles (72 per cent) did so by using hostile, detrimental or aggressive terms, in contrast to articles using positive terms (28 per cent). When comparing these variables, the statistical analysis showed a ratio of 0.38, pointing to a significant over-representation of negative assessments. [17] This trend has persisted up to the present day. [18]

However, the attacks also came from government sources. In 2013, the international forum was shocked by Australian Senator Scott Ludlam’s listing of direct interventions in the Assange case made by high Swedish government officials (including the Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt). [19] Here in Sweden, I was myself taken aback at the force of the ad hominem attacks against Assange by representatives of the Swedish Armed Forces openly supportive of NATO. [20]

All these ad hominem attacks, to which can now be added those from organizations under the control of ‘ex-agents’ paid by Sweden’s Security Police such as Researchgruppen in the case of Martin Fredriksson, were often made in contexts which had barely any direct relevance to the legal case.

Julian Assange has now received the support of the UN Human Rights Council, and more recently, the support of 500 prominent rights organizations and world intellectuals, including 60 professors and four Nobel-prize winners. [21]

The author:

Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli - jan 2016Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli is chairman of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights and Editor-in-Chief of The Indicter. Also publisher of The Professors’ Blog, and CEO of Libertarian Books – Sweden.

He is author of Sweden VS. Assange – Human Rights Issues, and other books and essays. Further information at The indicter’s Editorial Board.

This author is reachable via email at editors@theindicter.com, fdenoli@gmail.com

Follow this author on Twitter: @Professorsblogg

 

Notes and References

[1] “Former paid agent of Swedish Security Police dictated Amnesty Sweden’s stance against Assange”, The Indicter, 6 March 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016.

[2] “SÄPO” stands for Säkerhets Polisen [Sweden’s Security Police]. Website.

It is difficult to assess the time period during which SÄPO-paid agents have intervened in the Assange case, partly because an intelligence agency naturally refuses to give out information on its clandestine operations and agents, and partly because the information given by SÄPO ex-agents themselves does not exactly match other available sources. For example, there is a mismatch between a recent Researchgruppen statement [Reference 13 in Part 1 article here] and ‘ex agent’ Fredriksson’s public declaration about the period in which he was active in SÄPO.

[3] See reference 13 in above-cited article in The Indicter.

[4]

Martin Fredriksson tweet ref time in Sec Pol

[5] Researchgruppen – Wikipedia

[6] This campaign was exposed by The Professors’ Blog in the series “Anatomy of an untruthful scoop: Sweden’s psychological warfare against WikiLeaks” (Part One) and “Plan Z: Sweden’s latest chauvinist anti-WIkiLeaks campaign in the Swedish media” (Part Two).

[7] Seppuku Media Ekonomisk Förening, described here. And accounting whereabouts are here.

The Local reports that Martin Fredriksson – interviewed in his role of publisher of Researchgruppen (ansvarig utgivare)­ – “was unable to provide any concrete figures on the costs of the operation.” In “The Swedish group that blew the lid on hateful online comments”, The Local, 12 Dec 2013.

[8] Mina Specialintressen, Researchgruppen podcast.

It is difficult to assess when the programs were originally broadcast because the dates for all podcasts’ releases are given as 10/11/2015.

[9] M Ferrada de Noli, “Carl Bildt, US secret information-officer, according to document released by WikiLeaks“, The Professors’ Blog, 15 June 2014.

[10]

translation txt Researchgruppen podcast on Joakim von Braun

[11] Wikipedia article on Joakim von Braun [Swedish]. Retrieved 11 March 2016.

Wikipedia article on the ‘Office for Special Collection’. Retrieved 12 March 2016.

[12] Föreningen Sveriges Öga och Öra. Retrieved 12 March 2016.

[13] Marc Abramsson was the leader of the National Democrats, a now-dissolved Swedish Nazi political party.

[14] M Ferrada de Noli, MH 17. The facts and the libel, The Professors’ Blog, 5 August 2015.

[15] M Ferrada de Noli, “Sweden vs. Assange. Human Rights Issues & Political Background”, Libertarian Books, Sweden, 2014 and 2016. 342 pages, free download PDF.

[16] M Ferrada de Noli, “Political facts behind the Swedish case VS. Assange“, The Indicter, 15 December 2015.

[17] M Ferrada de Noli, Does Sweden Inflict Trial by Media against Assange?, The Professors’ Blog, 20 February 2011.

[18] M Ferrada de Noli, NewsVoice,

[19] “Importantes denuncias del Senador Ludlam sobre el caso Assange”, The Professors’ Blog, 20 January 2013.

[20] M Ferrada de Noli, “Sweden’s FOI publicly slandering Assange & WikiLeaks while in secret help building missile factory for Saudi Arabia dictatorship”, The Professors’ Blog, 6 March 2012.

[21] See list of supporters at “Julian Assange: 600+ Rights Groups and Individuals Condemn UK and Sweden for Failing to Recognize UN Arbitrary Detention Finding“, andyworthington.co.uk. Retrieved 2 March 2016.

 

 

Assange-cover-book-light-green-background-644x644

Source: 
Professors Blog

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