Arne Andersson, who had operational responsibility for the case, told the committee that on December 17th 2001 Säpo had a meeting with the foreign office. He said that Säpo had had an offer of an American plane to transport the two men back to Egypt.
“We made the judgement that it was essential to act quickly and gave details of the American offer for help,” he said.
Andersson said that Säpo was unsure “which network was behind the two Egyptians” and that from a security perspective the solution proposed by the Americans was the only alternative.
“After Anna Lindh had consulted with her closest civil servants she approved the expulsion.”
Andersson emphasised that the ultimate authority lay with the government.
“If Anna Lindh had said no, we would not have gone against her. If we had not had the all-clear from the government, we would have waited,” he said.
His version of events was supported by the head of Säpo at the time, Jan Danielsson.
“If the government had considered it inappropriate to use American help, then naturally we would not have done it,” he told the committee.
Sweden has been widely criticised for its role in the affair. Last week a UN committee decided that Sweden broke the United Nation’s convention against torture when it allowed Ahmed Agiza and Mohammad al-Zari to be deported.
In April Human Rights Watch said that the case had damaged Sweden’s credibility when speaking out on human rights issues, and accused the Swedish government of being “deeply hypocritical”.
There has also been internal criticism, Sweden’s Justice Ombudsman, Mats Melin, “severely reprimanding” Säpo over the way it handled the affair. When Agiza and Alzery were handed over to the American agents, they had their clothes cut off, they were drugged and had nappies put on them. During the flight, they were handcuffed to a mattress.
Agiza is currently serving a fifteen year prison term in Egypt for terrorist offences and his claims that he has been tortured since his return are backed up by Egyptian human rights groups. Al-Zari has been released.