How an agent is recruited

An agent in this context refers to a person tasked with gathering information about Sweden and passing it on to a foreign intelligence service. Every year, individuals in Sweden are subjected to recruitment attempts, in a process that can be divided into six steps.

Countries spying in and against Sweden, or against Swedish interests abroad, could do so by using intelligence officers posted to our country. A key priority for any such intelligence officer is to recruit individuals capable of providing relevant information and thereby operate on behalf on another country, i.e. agents. These are tasked with gathering information about Sweden and passing it on to their handlers, in other words spying on Sweden.

Every year, individuals in Sweden are subjected to recruitment attempts, in a process that can be divided into six steps:

Step 1 – Analysis

The recruitment process begins with the foreign intelligence service analysing its intelligence requirement.

Step 2 – Targeting

This analysis constitutes the basis for the targeting phase, when an intelligence officer is tasked with finding a person who can supply the required information.

Step 3 – Observation

The individual whom the intelligence officer considers to have access to this information is carefully studied in the observation phase. Details about personal qualities, weaknesses, financial circumstances and family situation form the basis for an assessment of the chances of getting that individual to work for another country.

Step 4 – Approach

If the intelligence officer finds the selected individual suitable, he or she will attempt contact in the approach phase. The approach is made to appear spontaneous and by chance, although in actual fact it has been meticulously planned and draws on the information gathered in the observation phase.

What to do if you believe you are the target of a recruitment attempt

  1. Make a note of who contacted you, and the reason they gave for doing so.
  2. Note how and when the first contact took place.
  3. Report to the Swedish Security Serviceexternal link

Step 5 – Cultivation

If the first meeting is successful, the intelligence officer will embark on a relationship with the potential agent in the cultivation phase. The selected individual is now subjected to a charm offensive and will also be given innocuous tasks to test the relationship, for instance to provide documents that are not classified. The potential agent will also become accustomed to receiving various kinds of gifts, and their vigilance and judgement are gradually broken down over what is sometimes a period of several years.

Step 6 – Recruitment

Eventually the intelligence officer will ask the potential agent to hand over classified or sensitive information. The recruitment phase is the most critical part of the process, but should the intelligence officer be successful the person becomes an agent for a foreign country’s intelligence service.