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Sweden drops Saudi arms deal probe

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Sweden drops Saudi arms deal probe
12:35 CEST+02:00
A Swedish prosecutor has closed a preliminary inquiry into a controversial defence deal to help Saudi Arabia build an arms factory, prosecutors said Friday.

"A preliminary inquiry into breach of trust had been opened. Today chief prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand decided to close the preliminary inquiry," said a statement from the prosecution authority.

Public broadcaster Swedish Radio revealed in March that the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) had secret plans since 2007 to help Saudi Arabia build a plant for the production of anti-tank weapons.

Part of the so-called Project Simoom involved, according to Swedish Radio, FOI's alleged creation of a shell company called SSTI to handle dealings with Saudi Arabia, in order to avoid any direct links to FOI and the government.

FOI director general Jan-Olof Lind had himself reported "a suspected crime" to the prosecutor following FOI's own internal review.

"The investigation has been carried out by the Swedish intelligence agency under my guidance. The investigation has shown there is no reason to prosecute," Lindstrand said.

The intelligence agency conducted the probe because of the possibility it would involve details about national security, the statement said.

Sweden has in the past sold weapons to Saudi Arabia, but classified government documents state that Project Simoom "pushes the boundaries of what is possible for a Swedish authority," the radio said when it broke the story on March 6.

The story has dominated Swedish headlines since then, with numerous politicians and public figures critical of Sweden's plans to provide weapons help to a country they describe as a "dictatorship".

Swedish defence minister Sten Tolgfors resigned in March after weeks of controversy over the revelations.

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