Suojelupoliisi, literally "Protection Police", is the Finnish Secret Service, like MI5. Supo is a police division with about 100 normal policemen with some additional training. Their tasks are:
They are one of the authorities of Finland
, but I doubt you'd ever meet them, unless you're spying or trying to kill the president
. However, if you seek refuge in Finland, they'll the ones who check if your story of being persecuted
in your home country is true.
The Central Detective Police (Etsivä Keskuspoliisi, EK) was formed from a military intelligence agency in 1919, one year after the civil war in Finland. The name was changed in 1937 to State Police (Valtiollinen poliisi, Valpo). Their main task was to keep an eye on the people coming into the country and prevent activities threatening national security and lawful society. In practice, they were keeping an eye on communists and Soviets. Communism was illegal at that time, because the other side - the White Army - had won the civil war, and the communists had been behaving dangerously. The agents of EK weren't exactly fascists, but it helped them that the anti-communist (and also anti-democratic) Lapua movement was on their side. It was dubbed "ohrana", because it was anti-communist like the Russian Okhrana.
EK engaged in infiltration of the communist movement (Komintern) and communist persecutions. Torture by beating with a baton was not uncommon when questioning the communists. This was done mostly by policemen of the Tampere office, which was led by nationalists from the radical right. The illegal Communist Party wanted to co-operate with the Social
Democrats (SDP). Many sections of SDP did not tolerate communists, but some did, especially in Tampere. Valpo recorded what they did on their meetings - an infiltrator or paid informant was there. The system was very efficient.
The Red Valpo
After the World War II, a commission was set to Finland by the Allies, or in practice, the Soviets. Fascists were blamed for the Continuation War, so the Soviet commission wanted to end all fascist activity in Finland. Valpo had to be restructured and the communist persecutions stopped. This meant that it was overrun by communists from the Finnish Communist Party (Suomen kommunistinen puolue, SKP). The "White Valpo" became the "Red Valpo". These were amateurs, so their investigations were plagued by incompetence, stupid mistakes and being undetermined. They didn't succeed very well in investigating the case where the Finnish people prepared for a possible Soviet invasion by hiding large numbers of military weapons across the country. My friend's old relatives still have some Nazi weapons left - The Red Valpo never caught them. The incompetence wasn't the worst problem, which was that the Red Valpo never had the support of the other government bodies, like the courts.
Founding of Supo and the Cold War
The communists (Suomen Kansan Demokraattinen Liitto, SKDL) lost the elections in 1948, which lead to the dissolution of the Red Valpo. Suojelupoliisi, Supo, was founded. Again, Supo was "white", but the communist persecutions had ended, because they no longer had the right to arrest or tap the phone. There was a great concern on the sovereignty of Finland over President Urho Kaleva Kekkonen's term. Being a member of a communist society meant a record in Supo's files. Supo collected information by using a lot of money and booze on informants, using the power of Koskenkorva. They tapped the phone lines and didn't care that they didn't have the official right for it.
The current (2002) Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, then a secretary in SDP, was spied on by the Supo, because he had lunch with a known KGB link in many occasions. Supo thought he was a KGB agent. However, he met also Americans, so the KGB thought he was a CIA agent. This kind of paranoia is common to all spy agencies, underlined by the Cold War.
President Mauno Koivisto ended the communist surveillance in the 1980's. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Supo has been a bit lost on who should it spy on. There is still espionage going on, and they are active on counterintelligence. Quite recently, in 1998, an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was caught from giving classified documents to a Russian spy. He was under surveillance for a year. Also a military officer from Vaasa was caught from giving military secrets to the Russians. He gave a large part of the Finnish defence plan to them.
Finland is a high-tech country, and so there industrial espionage. Supo claimed that they prevent the companies from losing hundreds of millions
euros by catching the spies. This is why they conduct reliability checks. A company can request a check for the employee with his consent. They also conduct security checks to see if the company "leaks" from somewhere.
The recent documents are, of course, secret, but according to some former agents, Supo has overshot on some cases involving animal rights activists. The activists oppose fur-farming and have done vandalism on fur farms, setting foxes and minks free. This should be usual disorderly conduct, but Supo interprets it as terrorism. However, there is real terrorism going on.
One of the Al-Qaeda terrorists, Hamza S. Al-Ghamdi, who was onboard on the second plane tried to get into Finland from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia a year before the attack. Supo conducted a reliability check and refused to permit entry, because they found out he was giving false personal information to the Foreign Ministry. Another related case was in November 2001. An obituary of Mohammed Atta (Mohamed El-Amir) was published in the respected daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. Supo traced the sender to Australia. She was a 58-year-old Muslim woman, citizen of Australia, who was a chat-friend of Atta's. They had been discussing archaeology and had developed a close net friendship. (English articles on this: google "el-amir helsingin".) The obituary read:
Deep in my heart
A memory is kept
Of the one I love
And shall never forget
Memorial service in private.
Addition 2004: In the beginning of 1990's, because of increasing drug crime, the police were given the right to wiretap to solve crimes where the minimum punishment is four years imprisonment, or crimes such as drug crimes and terrorism. Supo didn't get it until 1995.
Neither did Supo have the right to actually arrest the people they've been investigating on until 1992. To arrest treasonists and such, Supo was helped by the KRP, which did then the pre-investigation (arrests and questionings). KRP or Keskusrikospoliisi is the National Criminal Investigation Police.
According to the copyright law, permission is needed if you are to take a picture of someone for a newspaper. Policemen from Supo never give this permission, but they do tell their real name. This makes them "faceless". Only the highest Chief has a face in the media - the whole Supo is represented by one man only.
NEWS 2004: In the investigations about the Sonera wiretapping case, where the phone and email traffic of Sonera's employees had been monitored, a case about Supo surfaced. A policeman from Supo did not get a court warrant for wiretapping phones. This came into the attention of Supo's Chief Mr. Seppo Nevala and his second-in command, Department Chief Mr. Petri Knape. They failed to report the offence. When this came into attention of Minister of Interior Mr. Kari Rajamäki, he suspended both from their jobs. They stay suspended until the prosecutor decides whether to press charges.
The acting Chief of Supo is Mr. Hannu Moilanen, the most senior Department Chief. Because he is the highest Chief, now the "face of Supo" is him. That's unfortunate for him, because he was the Chief of the Department of Counterintelligence. I had a superior called Moilanen in my military service in Kainuu. He was also from Suomussalmi, and he looked like Hannu Moilanen. I wonder if they are related - Moilanen is a "John Smith" name there, but they look the same. The face of both, just like officers from Kainuu in general, is such that you WISH that this man is on the same side as you.
Newspaper Ilta-Sanomat reports that the personnel of Supo prefer an acting Chief from inside the house. Unfortunately, this creates a problem. The requirements for the office are stringent. Not only the Chief should be at least a fil.maist. (Master of Arts), he should have the training of a police chief. Moilanen does not fulfill the latter requirement. It's fine to have him replace Nevala for as long as a police chief is found, but if the prosecutor is busy and the term of Moilanen continues, the legality of the nomination becomes questionable.
The chiefs Nevala and Knape were later cleared from charges, and resumed duty.
Sakari Selin. Kun valtiopetos oli isänmaallinen teko. http://www.ksl.fi/muisti/sisallys.htm
Mikko Metsämäki, Matias Möttölä, Heikki Valkama. Supon lyhyt historia.(Ylioppilaslehti 6/1999)
Kimmo Rentola. Niin kylmää että polttaa.
Etelä-Suomen Sanomat. Yksi WTC-terroristeista yritti päästä Suomeen.