ims to Secure Democracy by Countering Disinformation
The Swedish government has inaugurated a new agency with a remit to co-ordinate and develop the country’s psychological defence.
The Myndigheten för Psykologiskt Försvar (Psychological Defence Agency) was stood up at the beginning of the year and is based in Karlstad. The Agency describes its job as being to “defend our open and democratic society and free opinions by identifying, analysing and responding to inappropriate influences and other misleading information directed at Sweden or Swedish interests.”
According to its website, the Agency defines psychological defence as “society’s common ability to resist undue influence on information and other misleading information,” and says its mission is to “ensure as far as possible Sweden’s freedom, independence and an open and democratic society with freedom of opinion and free media, in peacetime, heightened alert and ultimately in war.”
The agency, which has 45 staff, says it will work to identify misinformation and build national resilience to hostile information campaigns through education. In an interview given to Swedish radio and subsequently reported in several English-language newspapers, the new agency’s director, Henrik Landerholm, said: “This is not the Ministry of Truth or a state information board like we had during the Cold War. We want to protect freedom of opinion in our country.” Landerholm, who is a reservist Lieutenant Colonel, has previously been Sweden’s ambassador to Latvia and the UAE, and is a former rector of the Swedish National Defence College.