Speaking about secret services, in Sweden carried out by Säkerhetspolisen, or SÄPO for short: those who are familiar with the now famous Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson, especially the third part, have been given an exaggerated example of SÄPO’s activities. In reality the operations probably are far more dull and trivial. With the need for “budget spies”, to motivate state appropriations, popping up every so often. Accordingly the media every other year or so is fed with information about some spy arrested on diffuse grounds, most of the circumstances secret, of course, and soon it’s all forgotten and the suspect released. Nowadays that arsenal of suspects has been reinforced with the concept “terrorist”.
Since World War II we have had three real spies as far as I know. They were all trusted persons, none of them a communist. The most famous (and dangerous) was a colonel in the air force, Stig Wennerström, who delivered important military secrets to the Soviet Union. According to himself the reason was to level the balance in world politics between USA and the Soviets. The second one was a marine officer, and the third a police officer at times working for SÄPO. But there also was a fictional spy who fitted SÄPO’s default image of a real spy much better. He was a communist, a party member, living in the dark north.
This mans name was Fritiof Enbom, a notorious mythomaniac who was sickly driven to become famous for something, be it at the price of a lifetime spent in jail. This was in the 1950s and the Cold War was at it’s hottest. SÄPO had a desperate need to come up with a spy (two of the real spies were not found yet), preferably a communist one, and so had the rest of the establishment. (Sweden was certainly not that socialist society the Eisenhower’s administration tried to create an image of.) Thus the police, judge, prosecutor, attorneys and media cooperated effectively to reach mostly false verdicts. Secret documents, since declassified, reveals the tragicomic imaginations accepted as truths by all presumably intelligent people who created the verdicts.
To bring some credibility to his fictional stories, Enbom dragged a number of friends into the shenanigan, by mainly false accusations. A number of the “spies” were convicted, Enbom and a man called Gjersvold to lifetime in prison with hard labor. Gjersvold tried a number of times to appeal the sentence, without success. He was paroled in 1962, but continued his struggle for rehabilitation. Books were written about the miscarriage of justice in the Enbom case, and many prominent people became engaged in Gjersvold’s destiny. He died in 2002, before his last appeal to the Supreme Court was settled.
This is a different picture of the Swedish model, embraced by progressives throughout the world. Even the sun has spots, as we say here.