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Sweden links with US in 'net-activist alliance'

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Sweden links with US in 'net-activist alliance'
16:51 CEST+02:00
Sweden and the United States are in talks to create a common fund to support internet activists as part of a developing alliance between the two countries.

The Swedish foreign minister and US Secretary of State have both emphasized the importance of internet freedom.

The two countries are currently working on a number of initiatives to support internet activists involved in pro-democracy movements around the world.

According to Bildt, Sweden and the United States plan to put forward a proposal in the United Nations calling for the protection of freedom of speech on the internet.

"We're now working with a broader group around this, countries like Brazil, Nigeria, Turkey, and Tunisia. It's important that it's not only we and the Americans who are supporting this," Bildt told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Bildt explained that the proposal means that freedom of speech guarantees in article 19 of the UN declaration of human rights would also be applied to the internet.

Another initiative spearheaded by Sweden and the United States, as well as the Netherlands, calls for the creation of a fund to support net activists in undemocratic countries.

"Yes, we're discussing that. Both we, the Americans, and the Dutch already have such activities and now the question is how much we can coordinate things," said Bildt.

According to DN, the US and the Netherlands have promised to contribute to such a fund, while Sweden plans to contribute once the exact shape of the fund becomes clearer.

An increasing amount of Sweden's foreign aid budget has been devoted to supporting net activists in recent years through initiatives designed to foster democracy and free.

The 2012 budget includes an allocation of 215 million kronor ($30.7 million) to such efforts, up from 150 million kronor the year before, DN reports.

The funds are generally channeled through Swedish aid agency SIDA to train activists on encrypting their communications, among other programmes.

Bildt told DN he hopes the resolution will be presented at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva before the summer.

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