Bodström welcomes interference probe

Sweden's justice minister Thomas Bodström has said he would welcome an investigation into allegations that police raids against file-sharing site The Pirate Bay followed threats of sanctions from the United States.

A number of Swedish political parties have demanded an investigation by the Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution.

Bodström denied that politicians had attempted to direct police operations, and refuted the accusations that American officials had threatened Sweden.

“Sure, we’ve been criticized from the United States, in the same way that we have criticized Thailand and China in questions of copyright. But we have made it very clear that we never go in and direct individual cases,” he told news agency TT.

Bodström was reacting to accusations that the Justice Department had tried to influence Håkan Roswall, the prosecutor leading the case against The Pirate Bay.

“Naturally I have been informed about individual cases such as The Pirate Bay; I get similar information all the time – most recently regarding the Haga Man [rapist] case. But the limits are crystal clear – we don’t interfere,” he said.

The minister insisted that this position had been spelt out in all communications with the Americans.

Parliamentarians Tasso Stafilidis of the Left Party, Johan Linander of the Centre Party and Gustaf Fridolin of the Green Party have demanded that the Committee on the Constitution investigate whether Bodström had improperly tried to direct operational police matters.

Johan Pehrson, Liberal chairman of the committee said he was open to the idea of a joint meeting with the Parliamentary Justice Committee at which the minister could testify.

Bodström welcomed the initiative:

“It will underline once more that we haven’t done anything wrong,” he said.

Håkan Roswall says he does not feel as though he was subjected to political pressure when he met two Justice Department officials on April 7th.

“My judgment was that they had a duty to inform me why copyright offences were to be made a higher priority, that is to say because it was a question of national interest,” he told TT.

“But nothing was said about what I was expected to do, or how, or why. They are quite simply not capable of telling me how to investigate this kind of offence.”

The meeting had been preceded by a conference in Washington D.C. regarding file sharing, financed by the American Embassy and the Swedish government, but Roswall says he did not take part. He claims it would have been unsuitable, as the conference would be attended by ‘lobbyists’.

Chief prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem did attend the conference together with another prosecutor and police representatives. Alhem defines the entertainment industry representatives not as lobbyists but as ‘crime victims.’

“I think that we should listen to victims of crime regardless of whether they are rich or poor,” he said.