The legislation could result in a crackdown on freedom of expression, media representatives fear
Sweden’s new espionage law poses a danger to the nation’s democracy by making investigative journalism much more difficult, some local channels and media workers have suggested.
The new legislation was supported by parliament on Wednesday with demands from Trkiye that Sweden stop supporting Kurdish “terrorists” as a condition for entering NATO.
The new law introduces offenses against “reveal secret information in international cooperation”, “foreign espionage” and “gross foreign espionage”. The latter can receive a prison sentence of up to eight years.
Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson spoke in favor of the legislation and said it would make it easier for Stockholm to cooperate with its international partners. He also insisted that the move “is not about limiting the work of journalists, but about an explicit desire to harm those interests.”
However, several media, including the national broadcasters SVT and Sveriges Radio, noted that the law “threatens democracy and freedom of expression.” This sentiment was echoed in a joint public letter from Swedish media workers released last week.
The bill, they said, “risks having a chilling effect on whistleblowers and other key sources for investigative journalists.” It can also have “big consequences” for reporting on Sweden’s participation in such international organizations as the UN and NATO.
In May, Sweden together with its Nordic neighbor Finland applied to join NATO, citing Russia’s military operation in Ukraine as the reason. However, their bid for membership was initially opposed by Trkiye, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed in late May that the two countries support Kurdish “terrorism.” Later, all three parties signed an agreement that addressed Ankara’s concerns. Negotiations on the issue are still ongoing, with Turkey, as well as Hungary, yet to ratify the Nordic states’ applications.
Commenting on Finland and Sweden’s NATO bid, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned in June that the move would not contribute to Europe’s security, but would instead further escalate tensions between Moscow and the West.