How we made the report about Sweden and the Snowden Documents

Foto: Magnus Persson/svt
Sven Bergman och Fredik Laurin på plats i Rio de Janeiro för att möta Glenn Greenwald och Ryan Gallagher.

Reporters Sven Bergman, Fredrik Laurin and Joachim Dyfvemark explains how they made their report about Sweden and the Snowden Documents.

How did you get the idea for this report?

We have worked with questions about mass wiretapping and intelligence operations for over 10 years and have produced several previous reports on the subject. When the documents that Edward Snowden made available started being published in the summer of 2013, we realised that it was a unique opportunity to investigate the truth about secret wiretaps in Sweden.


What was your method?

We contacted absolutely everyone who has been involved in the publication of the Snowden documents, and after about five months we got the opportunity to analyse the documents on-site in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil with Glenn Greenwald, one of the two journalists to whom Snowden gave the material.


What types of sources did you use?

The primary source is the documents that Snowden made available, but we’ve also used sources in the IT security sector and the intelligence world to check the information, understand it and put it in the correct context.


Did you encounter any problems?

The huge pressure that arose when Snowden’s material started being published made it very hard to get in touch with the two journalists who were in possession of the material, but after many attempts we managed.

Parts of the material were also very difficult to interpret because of the many abbreviations and codes the NSA uses. We needed the support of the massive reporting that has already been done, in which other journalists have managed to determine what is what in the NSA documents.

The materials also contained information that should not be published, names of individuals at the FRA and NSA who are not publicly known, information that could have a negative impact on national security for Sweden or the US, and information on current ongoing operations. We blacked this information out before publishing.


Who participated in the work?

Sven Bergman, Joachim Dyfvermark and Fredrik Laurin from Uppdrag Granskning conducted the research in collaboration with Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher. Magnus Persson and Ola Christofferson did the photography and Christofferson also edited the segment, editor was Elisabeth Åsbrink.


How long did it take?

We started working to gain access to the material and to understand everything that was continuously being published after the Guardian published the first articles in the summer of 2013. Once we gained access to the material regarding Sweden, it took about a month to do the research in Brazil and Sweden and produce the report.