Recruiting an agent

When a person gathers confidential information in Sweden on behalf of another country, this may constitute unlawful intelligence activity or espionage. Such activities may be carried out by foreign intelligence officers as well as by Swedish agents.

Recruiting agents capable of supplying information is a key priority for any intelligence officer. Potential agents are put through a systematic process which can be divided into six phases.

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

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

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

If the intelligence officer finds the person selected to be suitable, he or she will seek 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 during the observation phase.

If the first meeting is successful, the intelligence officer will embark on a relationship with the intended agent in the cultivation phase. The selected person is now subjected to a charm offensive and given innocent tasks to test the relationship. He or she also becomes accustomed to receiving various types of gifts. Vigilance and judgement are broken down over what is sometimes a period of several years.

Eventually the intelligence officer will ask the intended agent to pass on classified or sensitive information. The recruitment phase is the most critical but, should it work out as the intelligence officer intended, the selected person will then become an agent for another country’s intelligence service.

Does the countering of industrial espionage fall within the Service's remit?
Counter-espionage also involves preventing and detecting espionage against Swedish companies when orchestrated by another state to gain access to information potentially harmful to Swedish interests or national security. When a company spies on another company to gain competitive advantage, this is a type of crime to be investigated by the Police.