Sweden spied on CIA ‘terror flights’: report

The government led by former Prime Minister Göran Persson knew that Sweden was used as a transit destination for clandestine CIA flights transporting suspected terrorists, according to a report in the Expressen newspaper on Friday.

The Swedish defence forces conducted a secret surveillance operation in 2005 monitoring a US government plane at Stockholm Arlanda Airport.

“The assignment to carry out this operation came from the defence ministry to the defence forces,” according to an Expressen source who confirmed that the Swedish government harboured suspicions that the CIA was using so-called rendition flights to force people out of the USA against their will.

The surveillance team confirmed these suspicions and found that the CIA plane was filled with chained prisoners clad with black hoods and unable to move, the newspaper reports, citing several independent anonymous sources.

The Swedish defence forces on Friday confirmed to the newspaper that the surveillance operation took place.

“We have inspected the plane but make no further comment,” Roger Magnergård, press officer at the Swedish defence forces, said to Expressen.

The operation’s findings were reported back to the defence department, then headed by defence minister Leni Björklund, Expressen writes.

There is however no record of any formal protest lodged by the Swedish government to the US authorities.

Laila Freivalds, the Swedish foreign minister at the time, told the TT news agency in 2006 that the government was unaware of any CIA-backed activity in Sweden.

The only other known case of a CIA plane that used Sweden as a transit country emerged in 2004 and concerned two Egyptian asylum-seekers who were collected at Bromma airport in 2001 and flown to Egypt.

Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed Alzery, it later emerged, were then subjected to torture and were in 2008 each awarded 3 million kronor ($363,765) in compensation by the Swedish government.

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Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.