Syria apologises over Swedish embassy burning

Sweden's foreign minister Laila Freivalds has spoken to her Syrian counterpart expressing serious concern that the Swedish embassy in Damascus was torched on Saturday as part of the protests over the Danish cartoons.

“He sincerely apologised over what had happened and that they couldn’t prevent it,” said Freivalds to TT.

“The explanation is that the intelligence they had did not indicate that this sort of thing could happen – it was exceptional,” she added.

Syrian foreign minister Faruq al-Shara informed Freivalds that a special committee had been formed to investigate the incident and who was responsible.

Freivalds also inquired about the security of Swedish citizens in Syria.

“He assured me that there were no threats directed at Swedes and that they could guarantee that all Swedes could feel safe.”

The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not changed its travel recommendations for Syria.

“The discussion is still going on, but as things stand now there will be no changes to the advice,” said Christian Carlsson at the ministry press office to TT on Sunday morning.

Denmark’s government, on the other hand, wants all Danes to leave Syria without delay. The government is said to be considering further political measures, reported the Ritzau news agency. The Norwegian authorities have also told its citizens to leave Syria as a result of the demonstrations in Damascus.


Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

Prosecutors in Sweden are now treating the murder at the Almedalen political festival as a terror crime, with the country's Säpo security police taking over the investigation.

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

In a press release issued on Monday evening, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said that the 32-year-old attacker, Theodor Engström, was now suspected of the crime of “terrorism through murder”, and also “preparation for a terror crime through preparation for murder”. 

Engström stabbed the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren last Wednesday as she was on her way to moderate a seminar at the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland. 

Although he was a former member of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, police said his motive seemed to be to protest against Sweden’s psychiatry services, who he felt had treated his own mental illness badly. 

The release gave no details as to why the 32-year-old was now being investigated for a more serious crime, but terror expert Magnus Ranstorp told the Expressen newspaper that the shift indicated that police had uncovered new evidence. 

READ ALSO: What do we now know about the Almedalen knife attack? 

“The new crime classification means that they’ve either found a political motive for the attack which meets the threshold for terrorism, and that might be a political motive for murdering Ing-Marie Wieselgren,” he said. “Or they might have discovered that he was scouting out a politician, or another target that could be considered political.” 

Engström’s defence lawyer said last week that his client, who he described as disturbed and incoherent, had spoken in police interrogations of having “a higher-up target”.