Sweden: Fake officer didn’t spy at NATO or hurt security

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FILE – This Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 file photo shows a general view of a meeting of the North Atlantic Council at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Sweden’s top military commander on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 says a man who duped the Swedish military for 18 years by using forged credentials did not release any information that could harm the Scandinavian country’s security. The Swedish man, who was not named, also worked at NATO headquarters. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, file)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A man who duped the Swedish military for 18 years by using forged credentials and who even worked at NATO headquarters and was a contact for Russia’s security services did not divulge any secret information that could harm Sweden’s security, the country’s top military commander said Thursday.

The Swedish man, who was not named, was detected as a fraud last year.

“There is nothing that indicates that classified information has been disseminated,” Gen. Micael Byden, the head of Sweden’s Armed Forces, told reporters, according to Sweden’s news agency TT.

Earlier Thursday, Byden informed the Swedish Parliament’s Defense Committee of an internal investigation into the case that has rocked the country. Sweden is not a member of NATO but has moved closer to the military alliance in recent years. Details of the probe have not been made public.

The fake officer was exposed after having joined Sweden’s UN peacekeeping force in Mali as chief of staff with the rank of major.

According to Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, which uncovered the story earlier this month, the man used forged certificates falsely showing that he had passed the Swedish Army Forces’ officer training program and falsely claiming to have a university degree in politics.

The man had worked with the Swedish army’s intelligence and security service, the daily reported, adding he also had been a contact person for Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main KGB successor agency. At NATO’s military headquarters, or SHAPE, in Belgium, the fake officer worked on the now-defunct Afghanistan Mission Network, where nations shared intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information.

The military chief told TT that “at least once, an employment decision has been made on unclear grounds.”

Swedish authorities have released no information on the man’s current whereabouts or if he faces criminal charges.

NATO, however, was clearly not happy that he had worked at their headquarters.

“These are serious allegations,” NATO said in a statement Thursday to The Associated Press. “NATO and Sweden are close partners and we remain in close contact with the Swedish authorities as they establish the facts. Staff on temporary NATO assignments are selected and sent by the home nation, which is also responsible for security clearances.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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