Sweden’s Ministry of Civil Defence has announced an additional function and possibly more funding for the Psychological Defence Agency created earlier this year to counter malicious foreign disinformation campaigns against the country.
Civil Defence Minister Carl-Oskar Bohlin told reporters on Aug. 29 that the government plans to add a $720,000 budget annually to the agency in the 2024-2026 budget. An additional assignment to counter disinformation targeting Sweden in connection with the burning of religious scriptures is also being considered for the agency.
During the press conference, the minister, together with the agency’s acting Director General Magnus Hjort, presented a status report on the extent of the disinformation campaign against Sweden.
“We must all remember to check the facts and think twice before sharing and spreading information,” Bohlin said.
“This awareness is the most important tool we have to avoid being influenced by foreign actors who are seeking to harm Sweden and Swedish interests.”
The Local, an online Swedish newspaper, reported that disinformation campaigns against Sweden increased after the spate of Quran burnings in the country this summer. The government said actors linked with Russia and Iran are behind the activity.
According to Hjort, the Quran-linked campaign is related to earlier foreign disinformation against Swedish social services that his agency has been tasked to counter.
In an interview with the Washington Post earlier about his appointment in the Swedish disinformation watchdog, Hjort said his agency will solely focus on foreign threats.
“Russia and China often resort to information influence activities, but we can also see new actors engaging in these activities,” he added.