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Liberal Party FRA-law revolt widens

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08:01 CEST+02:00
A split has widened in the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) which could lead to the scrapping of Sweden's controversial surveillance law.

A total of six Liberal Party Riksdag members have now proclaimed that they no longer support the so called FRA-law, which would give the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) increased powers to monitor citizens' email and telephone communications.

When the measure narrowly passed through the Riksdag in June, Liberal Party parliamentarian Camilla Lindberg was the only member of the governing centre-right parties to vote against the bill. Her colleague Birgitta Ohlsson abstained.

Now four more Liberal Party MPs – Agneta Berliner, Maria Lundqvist-Brömster, Cecilia Wikström, and Solveig Hellquist – have announced they would support a parliamentary motion to scrap the surveillance law.

“First and foremost the motion must make clear that the law be torn up or put on ice so that it doesn't come into force. When the law is then made over, it must be written so that one can't spy on ordinary people without just cause,” Lindberg told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

Without support from the six FRA-law opponents, the Alliance government would lack the necessary number of votes in the Riksdag to fend off any new proposals to shelve the law.

The government is already planning to make changes to the law before it enters into force on January 1st, 2009. But the planned changes are not sufficient in the eyes of the six Liberal Party members.

“I'm prepared to either write my own motion, which I hope as many centre-right politicians as possible will support, or I'm ready to vote for one of the opposition's motions,” said Ohlsson to the Sveriges Television news program Aktuellt, which uncovered the growing Liberal Party opposition to the FRA-law after conducting its own investigation.

Despite the growing Liberal Party revolt, party secretary Erik Ullenhag expressed his confidence that the gap in opinion within the party could be bridged.

“We're having constructive conversations in our new discussion group on how the law can be improved with better privacy protections for individuals and more internal controls,” he told SvD.

“Now we'll see where the discussion within the group goes. I'm confident we'll find a solution.”

The six opponents to the law don't want to ditch it completely, but are demanding that criminal suspicions be a prerequisite before monitoring anyone's communications.

“The most important thing is that we move away from mass wire-tapping of Swedish citizens, which is the case today,” said Ohlsson.

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