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Government monitored citizens during Cold War

Óvinir ríkisins (Enemies of the State) by historian Gudni Th. Jóhannesson was published in Iceland yesterday. The book reveals that individuals considered dangerous to state security were spied on by police during the Cold War.

In his book, Jóhannesson concludes that the Icelandic government had given permission for tapping the phones of 33 individuals between 1946 and 1976. This is reported in all the main media.

Those spied on included actors and couple Arnar Jónsson and Thórhildur Thorleifsdóttir. The phones in their apartment were tapped in the summer of 1968 after Jónsson took part in protests of the arrival of warships in Iceland and was therefore under surveillance by the police.

Jóhannesson began his research three years ago while he was a PHD student in the UK. A history professor had told him about a report from 1972 he had found in the British record office labeled “State of Security in Iceland.”

The report had a listing of “communists” and “communist sympathizers” in Iceland, which had been compiled by the Icelandic authorities. The list included the name of former news director of national broadcaster RÚV, Margrét Indridadóttir.

In the following, Jóhannesson began researching in Iceland and discovered that documents about phone tapping were kept at Reykjavík District Court.

In March last year Jóhannesson was given permission to look at court orders about phone tapping from 1949 to 1968, on which he bases his book.

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