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Bodström reported over CIA terror deportations

Bodström reported over CIA terror deportations

Published: 19 Jan 2009 15:50 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Jan 2009 15:50 GMT+01:00

Former justice minister Thomas Bodström and former prime minister Göran Persson have been reported to the Riksdag's constitutional committee over the expulsion of two terror suspects Sweden to Egypt in 2001.

The case has has already been subjected to investigation by the committee, but new details published in book released on Monday cast doubt on the details surrounding the extradition.

"Bodström and Persson denied then that they knew that CIA agents were involved. If it is shown that they lied to the constitutional committee, then it is a very serious matter," said the Moderate party member of parliament Tomas Tobé.

Former foreign minister Anna Lindh, who was assassinated in 2003, has long been seen as the one responsible for the decision, and the use of CIA agents, to expel Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed Alzery to Egypt in late 2001.

But her friend and former press secretary Eva Franchell writes in a new book, entitled "Väninnan: Rapport från Rosenbad" ('Girlfriend: an account from Rosenbad'), released on Monday that the commonly held view doesn’t tell the whole story.

"It is important the burden of guilt is apportioned fairly," said Tobé.

Former justice minister Thomas Bodström stands by his version of events that he did not know that CIA agents would conduct the expulsion when the government decided to expel the pair on December 18th 2001. Bodström said that he only became aware of CIA involvement on January 7th 2002, at a meeting with the then head of the security police (Säpo).

"I have said all this before and am prepared to do so again for the constitutional committee," Bodström said on Monday to news agency TT on his way home to Sweden from Australia.

Bodström concedes that he knew of the terror suspicions against Agiza and Alzery and that they were to be expelled, but he denies any knowledge of how the deportation would be carried out.

He also denies that he has tried to deflect the blame onto anyone else, "least of all Anna Lindh".

"The decision was taken collectively by the government and there is no one person more at fault than any other," he said.

"The deportation was correct, but should never have been carried out. They should have been taken into custody."

Bodström added that he did not know what Lindh knew of the details around the deportation of Agiza and Alzery. He was also unable to confirm whether anyone else at the justice ministry was party to that information.

When Bodström was informed by Säpo on January 7th 2002 of what had occurred he acted without delay to get to the bottom of the case, he assured TT.

"I thought that it was little embarrassing that I did not know the police regulations governing the execution of a deportation."

Bodström then commissioned a report into the matter and a commission of inquiry considered the issue of how cooperation with police forces from other countries should be conducted.

Bodström underlined that it is not in itself wrong to cooperate over a deportation but that there must be a Swedish police officer in charge and in control.

Former prime minister Göran Persson issued a few statements late on Sunday in reaction to press reports about Franchell’s book.

"The government was jointly responsible for the decision to deport the suspected Egyptian terrorists. The case was difficult and demanded a great deal of preparation. The member of the government who was responsible for those preparations was Anna Lindh."

Shortly after the Swedish government decision in December 2001, a CIA plane left Cairo bound for Stockholm’s Bromma airport.

Agiza and Alzery were then handed over to US agents and flown back to Cairo in what was one of several extraordinary renditions carried out by the United States in the early years of the war on terror.

Both men later claimed they were tortured while being held in Egypt, leading many international human rights bodies to criticize Sweden for its role in the forced deportations.

Both men eventually had their deportations overturned and went on to receive damage awards from the Swedish state in 2008.

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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