Sweden grapples with huge leak of confidential informat…

Sweden’s prime minister, the head of the country’s security services, and commander of the armed forces will face public questions for the first time on Monday following a huge leak of confidential information.

Sweden has been roiled for days by revelations of one of the biggest potential breaches of government secrets following a botched IT outsourcing agreement by the country’s Transport Agency.

The scandal could threaten the jobs of several ministers in the centre-left coalition and even the government itself, as the opposition parties have said they could table a no-confidence motion in parliament. 

Details of what was disclosed to IT workers in eastern Europe lacking security clearance is still being established. The Swedish armed forces have said that information about military personnel, vehicles, and defence and contingency planning could be in the Transport Agency’s systems. 

Swedish media have reported that the home addresses of fighter pilots as well as databases containing criminal records and people suspected of crimes were also able to be accessed by IT workers in the Czech Republic. 

The information involved in the outsourcing was like handing over “the keys to the kingdom”, a Transport Agency official interviewed by the security police said, according to Dagens Nyheter, the Swedish newspaper that broke the scandal. 

Stefan Löfven, prime minister, broke his silence late on Sunday after coming under heavy pressure. He called what happened “a disaster” and said the government had taken measures to limit the damage. 

Mr Lofven will hold a press conference on Monday afternoon and, in a sign of the seriousness of the affair, will be joined by Anders Thornberg, head of the security police, Micael Byden, supreme commander of Sweden’s armed forces, and Jonas Bjelfvenstam, the new head of the Transport Agency.

The former director-general of the Transport Agency, Maria Agren, was fired in January 2017 for undisclosed reasons and was last month fined SKr70,000 ($8,500) for being careless with secret information.

The agency itself said that under the outsourcing agreement signed in 2015 with IBM Sweden, Ms Agren decided not to apply several laws relating to security, personal data and privacy. Later that year, Sweden’s security police investigated the agency, leading to the prosecution of Ms Agren. 

Several ministers are facing questions over what they knew and when. The interior and defence ministers have both said they learnt of the investigation last year but the infrastructure minister said she first heard of it a year later. 

The delayed reaction of many ministers including Mr Löfven drew sharp criticism from Anna Kinberg Batra, leader of the main opposition party, the Moderates. 

“[Their performance] impresses few and provokes even more . . . Stefan Löfven must answer what he knew, when and how he was informed, and perhaps most importantly what he has done and is doing now to ensure Sweden’s security and limit the damage,” Ms Kinberg Batra wrote on Facebook. 

IBM and Ms Agren could not be reached for comment. The Transport Agency said it had no access to military vehicle records or pilot registers but that it did have some confidential information that it could not comment on. It added it had no indication that the information had been misused. It said it hoped to be certain that only workers receiving Swedish security clearance could access the information by this autumn.

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