Iceland has joined other Nordic countries in launching an investigation into a controversial U.S. Embassy surveillance program.

Iceland's Ministry of Justice and Human Rights will try to determine whether the U.S. embassy's program of monitoring some citizens violates the civil rights of residents living near the embassy, which sits in a residential area in Reykjavik's old city center.

The inquiry was spurred by media reports in Norway and Sweden that linked U.S. embassies there to possible espionage against citizens of those countries, including allegedly taking pictures of street demonstrations and of people deemed security risks, sparking a wave of anti-American sentiments that has spread throughout the region.

Halla Gunnarsdottir, assistant to Iceland's Minister of Justice and Human Rights, said the police commissioner will now "investigate whether the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik had been involved in comparable activities."

Reports of alleged abuses are swirling throughout Iceland. A former security guard who would not release his name told Icelandic media website Visir on Thursday that the U.S. Embassy's surveillance activities went far beyond the embassy neighborhood, contradicting U.S. Ambassador Luis Arreaga's assertion that it was limited to the immediate area.