How Sweden Collaborated With CIA on Renditions and Framing of Assange

By Rafik Saley, Okoth Osewe, and John Goss

Apart from Petersson being personally aware of the renditions, the Minister of Justice Thomas Bodström, and the then Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh, also knew about them

Apart from Petersson being personally aware of the renditions, the Minister of Justice Thomas Bodström, and the then Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh, also knew about them

By his own admission, Mr. Sven-Olof Petersson, Sweden’s Ambassador to Australia, has revealed that he was fully aware of the pending CIA rendition flight which took place on 18th December 2001 from Stockholm to Egypt. This flight ended in two Egyptian nationals, Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery, being illegally rendered and tortured.  His admission comes from a statement to the Swedish Parliament’s Constitutional Committee which confirms his presence at a briefing on 17th December 2001, a briefing at which the rendition process was being finalised. However, the Constitution Committee report shows that he knew about the renditions at the end of November and probably even in mid-November. In fact, it was he who kept the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anna Lindh, updated with progress about deportation arrangements with the CIA in November 2001.[i] At the time Petersson was Sweden’s Director-General for Political Affairs at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.[ii]

Illegal and unconstitutional decisions of this nature, made behind closed doors, show utter contempt for the Swedish legal system, which has been further denigrated by attempts to get Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, to Sweden on flimsy allegations of a sexual nature, from where, concerned parties believe the CIA would pick him up and put him on trial in the United States. Ironically, it was through Wikileaks that the world learnt about the diplomatic tiff between the US and Sweden, which brought an end to Swedish rendition in 2006.[iii] In his capacity as Director-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Petersson was in regular contact with the United States embassy in Stockholm and he was fully aware of the US request that two Egyptian nationals be illegally rendered.[iv] The rendition went ahead without protest or representation on behalf of the victims and no one in the Swedish government has been made accountable for this flagrant breach of Swedish law. An admission of Sweden’s culpability can be found in the SEK 3 million compensation paid to each of the two men after their eventual release.[v] However this ‘hush money’ does not bring the perpetrators to account for their involvement. Petersson is one such perpetrator. What the ‘hush money’ appears to have paid for is non-disclosure of the identities of the Swedish representatives who sought assurances from Cairo prior to the men’s rendition.[vi]

Apart from Petersson being personally aware of the renditions, the Minister of Justice Thomas Bodström, and the then Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh, also knew about them.[vii] Thomas Bodström, spent a year in the USA between 2010 – 2011 purportedly for rehabilitation in connection with alchohol and substance abuse while in partnership in the legal firm of Borgström & Bodström. It would be lax not to point out to readers that Claes Borgström is the lawyer who was called upon to prosecute Julian Assange over allegations that had previously been dismissed. Further, Borgström is a man known to be friendly with Irmeli Krans the police interrogator who took SW’s original statement against Assange. Irmeli Krans is herself friends with the other complainant, AA, who, it is said, sat in illegally on Irmeli Kran’s interview of SW.[viii]

Both the rendered Egyptians, who were asylum-seekers, were sent back to Egypt despite Sweden’s Aliens Act (1989) forbidding repatriation to a country where nationals are likely to be tortured. It was well known even then that Egypt uses torture against political prisoners.[ix] The torture of both men on the flight to Egypt, included them being hooded, handcuffed and strapped down. The brutality of the torture in Egypt was captured in a comment by Mr. Agiza  who noted  that the interrogators routinely beat him, strapped him to a wet mattress and subjected him to electric shock through electrodes attached to his ear lobes, nipples, and genitals.[x]

Mr. Petersson´s statements to the Australian media on the impartiality of the Swedish legal system ring hollow when judged against his personal involvement in previous renditions. Even more disturbing is the fact that Mr. Petersson’s statements have been echoed by Australian Foreign minister Bob Carr. The adoption of the statements shows a serious lack of judgment on Carr’s part and brings the Australian government’s foreign policy under scrutiny. Carr actually urged Assange to travel to Sweden claiming that it was unlikely that he would be extradited.[xi] In the same light recent statements by EU Home Affairs Minister, Cecilia Malmström, urging Mr.Assange to “just go to Sweden” has the same hollow ring to it.[xii] Malmström has worked closely with US interests both in Sweden and elsewhere in adopting harsh measures to stifle free speech in Europe. She purports to know nothing about the Assange case. Her close affinity to, and partiality in favour of, the United States, is demonstrated by her recent joint briefing with Eric Holder, US attorney general.[xiii] She has also co-authored an article with him.[xiv]

The question on every reasonable person’s lips is: why can´t the Swedish government “just give Mr. Assange the diplomatic guarantees that he has asked for?” In the light of  Sweden´s complicity in illegal rendition right up to 2006, a diplomatic guarantee to Assange stating that he won´t be extradited to the United States  is of integral importance. After all, the Swedish government has the final say in the matter and, if its past history in illegal renditions is anything to go by, it can be argued that Assange´s fears about extradition or rendition to the United States are justified.

The Swedish Ambassador accuses the Sydney Morning Herald columnist, Elizabeth Farrelly, of not having any knowledge of Sweden.[xv] It is imperative that the columnist knows about Sweden, and its foreign policy over the past twenty years, so she can pass on the sinister dealings to her readership. Until recent years, Sweden had a peace policy of which to be proud. For 150 years, the country abstained from war and, in 1966, to celebrate this highly-enviable record, SIPRI was established. After Sweden started cooperating with NATO, the situation began to change.[xvi] Not long afterwards the Swedish military became involved in world conflicts and more recently has looked poised for even greater involvement.[xvii] This is not the old Sweden but a new country that has consistently demonstrated unparalleled hypocrisy in its international relations. This trend continues to be exhibited by the refusal of responsible authorities to grant Assange the reasonable assurances that he seeks.

Today, prominent international supporters of Mr. Assange, like Michael Moore, John Pilger, Jemima Khan and Baltasar Garzon are ridiculed in Sweden. Adding to the recent changes in foreign and domestic policy, Sweden today has an openly racist party called Sweden Democrats (SD). Its parliamentary share of the vote is 10%, which translates to 20 Parliamentary seats. It is the third largest political party in the country.  Although the Party openly calls for the repatriation of immigrants from Sweden, it made massive electoral gains in the last elections. At the moment, the Swedish government seems to be following the direction of the SD party, especially in its foreign policy positions which are increasingly pro-American and anti-democratic.

Because of the country’s pro-American stance on key political issues; a legal system has developed with multiple loopholes which could easily be exploited to Assange’s disadvantage. The legal framework is constitutionally racist against foreigners, especially when in competition with ethnic Swedish nationals of the cherished blond-haired, blue-eyed Nordic model, but most worrying of all, Sweden’s history of hypocrisy, lop-sidedness and double-speak in dealings with the international community shows that there is a substantial risk that Julian Assange would be in physical danger if extradited to Sweden from the UK. Under such circumstances, it is not unreasonable to seek unequivocal diplomatic assurances which contain a cast-iron guarantee that he would not be extradited to the United States should he agree to go to Sweden for questioning.

President Rafael Correa has bravely granted political asylum to Mr. Assange in spite of peer-group pressures from the United States and other pro-western governments. The republic of Ecuador has thus underlined its efforts to campaign for basic human rights. Great Britain has demonstrated dual-standards by hindering the free movement of Mr. Assange even though the same government blocked the extradition to Spain of the late Chilean military dictator, Augusto Pinochet, who was wanted there for the murder of 94 Spanish citizens, and many other charges of torture and rape against his own people. Although Julian Assange is an Australian citizen the Australian government has refused to protect him while accommodating Mr. Sven-Olof Petersson, the Swedish Ambassador, who, as this article demonstrates, clearly supports rendition and torture. This is unacceptable in a free, democratic and transparent society.

Authored by:

Rafik Saley – general secretary of the African Committee for Development in Stockholm, Sweden
Okoth Osewe – journalist – writes for Kenya Stockholm Blog
John Goss – researcher, United Kingdom
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  • Subjects,
    We have an issue with them.So when we become subjects ,it is the reason for us to be a collective. The tribe Has failed.Do not make Assange and his cohorts into heroes.The same will decide that he will will be a traitor.but the truth will remain without tribe .So in as much Assange and his followers will reveal. It has always been known.God Bless Merry Chrsitmas

  • Nyazolet Nyazolete

    <<<<<Sweden insists assanges repatriation

  • ‘Swedes did not commit crime against America’

    24 Dec 12 10:17

    Mystery enshrouds the trial against two Swedish citizens charged with a series of terror crimes in a New York court, with no connections established between the alleged crimes and the United States.

    The two Swedes, aged 27 and 29, appeared in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York on Friday on charges that they had trained and fought with Somali group al-Shabaab.

    It is not clear why the case is being brought in the United States. The FBI claims they are “real terrorists”.

    The 29-year-old’s lawyer said that the defendants have not committed any crimes against America.

    “American authorities believe that al-Shabaab, which has been designated as terrorists by the United States, propagates its activities on the internet and therefore ‘affects American foreign trade’. In that case more or less anything falls within American jurisdiction,” lawyer Ephraim Savitt told the TT news agency.

    He confirmed that the Swedes were recruited by al-Shabaab but claims that they were on the run from the militant organization at the time of their arrest in Djibouti last summer.

    According to the New York Times, the two Swedes and a 23-year-old man who was controversially stripped of his British citizenship this year were on their way to Yemen.

    The men were extradited to the United States after a series of interrogations by FBI and others.

    According to Savitt, the Swedish Foreign Ministry was notified already at the time of the arrest in Djibouti.

    “But I am not aware of any specific efforts made by Swedish authorities,” he said.

    Representatives of the Swedish Consulate in New York have visited the Swedes on at least one occasion.

    Both are of Somali origin and hold Swedish citizenship.

    “I can’t go into any detail about our conversation or what they asked for,” said Charlotta Ozaki Macias, a Swedish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.

    The men appeared in the Brooklyn court together with the 23-year-old Brit. They were aided by a Swedish interpreter.

    If found guilty, they could face up to 30 years in prison.

    According to Over Bring, Professor Emeritus in public international law, countries can charge individuals who have committed crimes abroad if they are believed to jeopardize national interests.

    “It is a question of evidence, how concrete this threat against US security is and if it is a credible argument,” Bring told TT.

    “In today’s climate, I can’t help but suspect that this would work in an US court.”

    The men are accused of participating in weapons and explosives training with al-Shabaab during a four-year period beginning in 2008.

    Court documents show no connection between the alleged crimes and the United States, the New York Times reported.

    TT/The Local/nr

  • Assange…..who is that

    KSB: if u do not know Assange, then you must have just returned from Lokichogio, Ologozailiel or Lewe. Do a google and touch base.

  • Modern-day slavery

    Prostitution: why Swedes believe they got it right

    Country held up as model for reform across Europe after targeting the men who pay for sex


    Hazel Thompson in Stockholm, Wednesday 11 December 2013 17.00 GMT

    Kajsa Wahlberg remembers well the reaction when she helped lead efforts to introduce Sweden’s now-famous laws criminalising the purchase of sex. “It had enormous interest. People were laughing in 1999 at Sweden and saying it can’t be done. A German police officer told me, ‘You’re crazy sweetie, you can’t do that, you cannot prohibit men from buying sex, it’s totally impossible.’ But he said if you can reduce the amount of trafficking cases with your legislation I wish you good luck, because in Germany it’s grown out of proportion.”

    Nearly 15 years on, Sweden believes it has. Police say the number of prostitutes has dropped by two-thirds. A report by a Swedish academic says that by tackling demand, Sweden provides some of the best protection to trafficking victims.

    “There is more that could be done, for example when it comes to implementation there are big gaps so far, but it seems that in Sweden we have much lower levels of trafficking for prostitution than other countries and this is probably one of the main reasons,” says Marta C Johansson, author of a five-nation study called Still Neglecting the Demand That Fuels Human Trafficking.

    Simon Haggstrom, an officer in the prostitution unit of Stockholm police, is on the frontline of this push to stop men from paying for sex. “My job is to arrest as many men buying sex as possible and I think I have arrested about 700 men since 2007. [They] should know that they are taking a huge risk: they are considering going out into the central parts of Stockholm actually buying another human being. We will go after them.”

    He says the number of prostitutes has dramatically decreased since the law was introduced, from 2,500 across Sweden in 1998 to about 1,000 today.

    Sweden is held up as a model for European reform on prostitution law. Last week, France moved in the same direction, bringing in fines for people who pay for sex. Politicians and police officers from several countries have visited Stockholm, wanting to know what impact the law has had. But the debate is highly polarised. Many experts argue that only by regulating the sex trade and bringing it into the open, as has been done in Germany and the Netherlands, will women get the protection they need.

    Linda’s story illustrates the complexity of the challenge facing those tackling sexual exploitation. Linda was just 10 when she began a conversation with a 37-year-old Swedish man online. Bullied at school and with her parents divorcing at home, she was an easy victim to his promises of love. Within a few months she considered him her boyfriend and agreed to meet a friend of his in a hotel for dinner. The man took her to her room where he violently raped her. Her boyfriend had sold her, and so strong was his control over her that he was able to do so again and again.

    “He guilted me [saying] that if you don’t do this next time better or longer, I am going to leave you. This was only three months after our first contact and he had already broken me down so far and so much that I would die for him.”

    Over the next five years she was abused and raped by, she believes, about 600 men who were making payments to her boyfriend. “It’s almost like a takeaway meal, they are in the hotel room, I come to them, they use me and I leave. The rapes became more and more violent, more and more sadistic. There is a lot of weird porn out there, a lot of very sadistic things. When you watch lots of this kind of porn I can in some way understand that normal sex is not so much fun. This is epidemic and the thing is, we don’t really talk about it – not in schools, not at home. I think you need to educate people.”

    Eventually, Linda’s mother discovered what was going on and contacted the police, finally ending the abuse.

    Johansson argues that there is not enough protection for young people exploited domestically in Sweden, compared with the UK or the Netherlands, where all minors forced into the sex trade are seen as victims of trafficking. But she believes that criminalising all buyers is the most effective way to stop men knowingly or unknowingly buying sex from a trafficked woman.

    “It’s important Europe focuses on the issue of demand as it is what fuels human trafficking by making it profitable. It is insufficient to focus only on the traffickers while ignoring those paying for the services of victims – the market must be tackled.”

    One of the main arguments of those who oppose any attempt to criminalise prostitution is that it simply drives the industry underground, putting the sex workers in a more vulnerable position.

    Pye Jakobsson a spokeswoman for the Rose Alliance, representing Swedish sex workers, says: “You can’t talk about protecting sex workers as well as saying the law is good, because it’s driving prostitution and trafficking underground, which reduces social services’ access to victims.”

    She doesn’t believe police figures suggesting prostitution has decreased, saying the numbers represent those women selling sex on the street, not the 50% who work indoors. And she is dismissive of Sweden’s pioneering role in European prostitution reform. This law, she says, “is about Sweden selling its ego, showing how brilliant and smart they are, a perfect democracy and country in Europe that others should aspire to”.

    But in her office, where she surveys the constant flow of evidence of sexual exploitation, Wahlberg believes that the Swedish way is the best chance of helping the most vulnerable women.

    “We have a small group of pro-prostitution lobbyists that are very powerful. The sex purchase act was not passed for them; it was passed for the majority of women who suffer from prostitution. If women want to be in prostitution and don’t want any help, we don’t interfere. But it bothers me that they make themselves spokespersons for these women we are trying to protect because they don’t have a voice, where is their voice?”

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