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Ikea rejects East German prison labour claims

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15:12 CEST+02:00
Swedish furniture giant Ikea has rejected claims in a new Swedish television documentary that there is evidence that East German political prisoners were used in its factories in the 1970s and 1980s.

The claims which will be aired in Sveriges Television's (SVT) Uppdrag Granskning programme on Wednesday first emerged in a German television documentary aired in July 2011.

SVT has claimed that its reporter has found evidence in the Stasi archives that indicates that Ikea made used of prisoner labour.

The firm issued a statement on Friday, explaining that it had investigated the claims following the Germany documentary and found no evidence to support them.

"After the German documentary, Ikea examined the issue to get a more complete picture of what happened. We have so far found no evidence to suggest that political prisoners were used in production," the firm wrote.

Ikea claimed in its statement that it takes the issue seriously and stated that regular inspections were made of the firm's factories in the DDR.

"We were clear in our demands then as we are now," the firm stated.

During the 1970s, Ikea developed a strong manufacturing presence in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), establishing operations in 65 locations across the country to produce parts and furniture.

The 2011 documentary by German public broadcaster WDR detailed claims, citing Stasi documents, that Ikea had a thorough cooperation with the East German authorities.

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The programme illustrated the example of one factory, where Ikea's popular Klippan sofa was produced, and which was located beside a prison in Waldheim.

A former prison chief told WDR that prison labour was an expected part of furniture production.

SVT's Uppdrag Granskning will be broadcast on Wednesday and will include an interview with Ikea's Jeanette Skjelmose.

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