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Sweden Threatened by US

So says Lindh friend Eva Franchell. From 2009.


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STOCKHOLM (Rixstep) — The US put enormous pressure on Sweden to render Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed al-Zery to Mubarak's torture chambers in December 2001. They threatened with a trade boycott of the European Union if Sweden didn't comply.

So claims Eva Franchell in her book from 2009.

Background

Swedish security police SÄPO had in early autumn 2001 traced a suspected terrorist in Sweden. The CIA had traced another - this before '9/11'. (They were wrong in both cases.)

Then 9/11 happened.

The US embassy in Stockholm offered to let the CIA help get rid of the two Egyptians, and they successively increased the pressure on Sweden to comply as their 'offer' turned gradually into an 'ultimatum', threatening a trade boycott either against Sweden or the entire EU.

The boycott would have led to a diplomatic crisis between Sweden and the US.

Then social democrat minister for foreign affairs Anna Lindh (under prime minister Göran Persson, assassinated 11 September 2003) was briefed by SÄPO on 17 December. She was also advised by prime minister Persson who wanted the Egyptians gone by yesterday.

A matter of utmost importance: get the Egyptians out before the defence attorneys discover what's going on.

The attorneys would otherwise have filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights, leaving the Egyptians in Sweden, something prime minister Göran Persson wanted to avoid at all costs.

On Persson's side was the fact that Swedish media more or less close down for the holidays, so perhaps no one would notice what was going on!

Political Dynamite

The matter of Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed al-Zery was political dynamite for Sweden, as extraditing people to countries known to be engaged in torture is against international law.

Anna Lindh didn't like it at all. Yet she knew her only alternative was to resign.

The cabinet convened 18 December and agreed Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed al-Zery would be extradited. (Franchell suggests that not everyone in the cabinet was privy to the situation.)

Takeoff!

The CIA airplane took off for Sweden the minute Persson's cabinet reached their decision and landed at the smaller airport in Bromma outside Stockholm that very evening at 21:00 local time.

Masked agents stormed out of the plane and ripped off the clothes of the two prisoners. The prisoners were put in new clothes, chains, and handcuffs, then were strapped to stretchers with cloth bags put over their heads.

The airplane took off for Egypt, the first rendition of its kind. The US rewarded Sweden by releasing Swedish national Mehdi Ghezali from Guantánamo.

The entire sordid affair should have been taken care of by the minister for migration, but that individual hadn't been available in the holiday season, so they tossed the matter onto Anna Lindh's lap instead.

Unanimous

The cabinet were unanimous in their decision. Yet one by one after the fact they've come forward to deny knowing anything about it. They all tried instead to pin the blame on the assassinated Anna Lindh.

Claes Borgström's law firm partner and then minister for justice Thomas Bodström was called before the Constitutional Committee and denied everything. To this day he claims it was the decision of Anna Lindh and no one else.

Prime minister Göran Persson was interviewed by Swedish state radio on Xmas day 2004 and asked whose responsibility it had been - his or Anna's. Persson's response:

'I think it's uncomfortable to sit here and talk about Anna's responsibility. She was the one who briefed us. She was the one who researched the matter.'

Persson followed up in the interview by claiming it had taken months before he was alerted to the involvement of the CIA, and that Thomas Bodström, who'd denied involvement and even denied knowing of the matter, was first informed one month later.

Franchell Sceptical

But Eva Franchell was sceptical. She didn't buy the story that it took a month or two for the minister for justice and the prime minister himself to be informed. So she obtained the relevant documents through Sweden's freedom of information act.

Those documents show that both minister for justice Thomas Bodström and prime minister Göran Persson were lying: Thomas Bodström was formally briefed on the matter on 17 December, the day before the CIA airplane arrived, the same day Anna Lindh was briefed.

Thomas Bodström was coincidentally out of the country when this was first published and responded through his press secretary that he had no comments until he'd read Eva Franchell's book. Bodström's since gone on to deny involvement and any knowledge of the affair, insisting it was all Anna Lindh's responsibility.

See Also
Aftonbladet: Hotad - av USA
Industry Watch: Truth of Sweden is Stranger than Fiction
Industry Watch: Neutral Sweden's Not So Neutral CIA Flights

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