“Terrorist websites” hosted in Sweden

A Swedish web host has taken action after it was found to be hosting three sites linked to terror network al-Qaeda. The move contrasted with the decision by Swedish authorities not to accede to Russian pleas to close a website that Moscow claims is a linked to Chechen terrorists.

It was revealed on Wednesday that Swedish company Spray had been hosting a number of sites with links to international terror groups. One of the sites was run by Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a former Kuwaiti citizen wanted in America in connection with the September 11th terror attacks, reported Svenska Dagbladet.

It appears that the sites, which reportedly featured calls for violence, were reported to Spray after they were spotted by a research institute in London. Spray’s spokesman told Aftonbladet that the company bans all sites that feature threatening or criminal material. The company added that it was sometimes difficult to monitor sites that use Swedish servers but which do not seem, on outward appearances, to be Swedish. This was particularly true for sites written in Arabic.

Such a swift response was not forthcoming when Russia ‘expressed its concern’ to Swedish authorities over, a Chechen site hosted in Sweden. Johan Molander, Sweden’s ambassador in Moscow, was called to the foreign ministry where a senior civil servant told him of Russia’s disapproval of the site, reported DN.

The site moved to a Swedish server last month after it was closed down by its previous host in Finland. This followed a visit to the hosting company’s offices by Finnish security police, reported Svenska Dagbladet. Finland’s foreign minister, Erkki Tuomioja claimed that the site exhorted readers to murder Russian President Vladimir Putin.

DN reported concern among journalists and politicians in Finland that the closure of the site was a blow to free speech.

The Swedish company now hosting the site, Stockholm-based Port 80, said it did not consider the site to have illegal content. Chief Executive Jean Hamberg told TT:

“Our policy is that unless the content is illegal, our clients can do what they like.”

Swedish authorities have so far refused to take action against the website. The Swedish Embassy in Moscow told the Russian government that the question of whether the site was criminal was a matter for the legal authorities, and the government could not intervene.

“If someone believes that something on a site is illegal, they should talk to the prosecutor’s office,” said embassy official Elisabeth Stam.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet