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Pressure mounts to open Sweden's Stasi archive

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Pressure mounts to open Sweden's Stasi archive
Stasi files in Chemnitz, eastern Germany, in a 2007 file photo
16:01 CET+01:00
Sweden's justice minister Beatrice Ask has indicated that she is prepared to discuss the opening the Stasi archive of Swedish security service Säpo in response to calls for more transparency over the classified files.

"I intend to invite the group leaders in the Riksdag to see if we reach a consensus on this. I think it is very reasonable to do so based on the discussion which has occurred," Ask said to Sveriges Television (SVT) on Wednesday.

The opposition parties have demanded greater openness in regards to the archive, a view shared by Alliance government coalition parties the Christian Democrats and the Centre Party.

The Centre Party has suggested opening the archives in a manner similar to how the process was undertaken in Germany.

"One can say that it is a compromise between openness and integrity," said Johan Linander, vice chairperson of the Riksdag justice committee and member of the Centre Party.

The party, together with the Sweden Democrats, Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and Left Party are now reported to be considering submitting demands that either more information is released or at least more researchers are granted access to the controversial files.

In a written comment to the TT news agency later on Wednesday, Beatrice Ask underlined that a balance needed to be struck between transparency and protecting individual integrity.

"I can conclude that all seem to agree on the importance of transparency and a just presentation of history, but also that there are other interests worthy of protection which must be considered - both in terms of protection for individual privacy and the protection of the Security Service's operations," Ask argued.

Ask also pointed out that while several parties have called for greater openness, "to my knowledge no one has presented a proposal as to how the various interests should be balanced against one another".

The issue of the transparency of Säpo's archives of the East German secret service agents and contacts in Sweden has re-emerged in the wake of a new book published by Södertörn University researcher and professor, Birgitta Almgren, in September.

A ruling in the Supreme Administrative Court in 2010 had granted her exclusive access, with strict restrictions, to the archives.

In her book, Almgren has mapped the activities of 57 people who worked for the Stasi in one form or another. The book has furthermore given rise to speculation as to the identity of the people involved.

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