Swedish opposition announces no-confidence motion against three government ministers

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Swedish opposition announces no-confidence motion against three government ministers
The Alliance coalition. Photo: Rik Simander/TT
09:15 CEST+02:00
The Swedish government is holding an emergency meeting after the opposition Alliance coalition announced it plans a motion of no confidence against three ministers following the transport data leak that made top secret police databases available to foreign IT workers.

At a snap press conference on Wednesday morning, the leaders of the four parties in the coalition announced plans for a no-confidence motion against Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist, Interior Minister Anders Ygeman and Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson.

"Several ministers have neglected their responsibilities. That must have consequences, here and now," Centre Party leader Annie Lööf said.

The massive leak of confidential information stems from the Swedish Transport Agency’s hiring of IBM in 2015 to take over its IT operations.  IBM used subcontractors abroad, making sensitive information and an entire database of Swedish drivers’ licences accessible by foreign technicians who did not have the usual security clearance.

Though it is not yet known if it caused any harm, it is one of the largest breaches of government information in Sweden in decades.

READ ALSO: Government battles fall-out from data leak

When quizzed by parliamentary committees on Tuesday, Defence minister Hultqvist said he had been told in March 2016 that Swedish security police Säpo were investigating Transportstyrelsen.

It has been reported that both he and Interior Minister Ygeman knew about the suspicions in early 2016, but Infrastructure Minister Johansson and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven were only informed in January 2017.

“Peter Hultqvist has responsibility for defence and despite the fact that he, like Anders Ygeman, received information about security shortcomings in 2016 as well as that these security shortcomings were considered to be very serious, Peter Hultqvist refrained from informing the Riksdag, the ministers responsible, and refrained from informing the Prime Minister,” Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch Thor explained at the Alliance press conference on Wednesday.

“Anna Johansson is responsible for the Transport Agency and despite that she has not had control over the activities they carry out. Where they have actively violated the law and exposed Sweden and Swedes to security risks,” her colleague Lööf noted.

READ ALSO: Cyber security slip-up 'a complete failure' according to PM Löfven

Ygeman said he informed the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation (of which the Infrastructure Minister is part) when he was told about the issue by Säpo in 2016. Johansson meanwhile said her state secretary at the time failed to pass on information to her.

A vote could take place within the next few weeks, according to Moderate leader Anna Kinberg Batra. 

Following the press conference the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats announced that they will support the Alliance motion. The Left Party by contrast said it will not, but leader Jonas Sjöstedt later clarified through Twitter that he wants Johansson to step down.

Sjöstedt also said his party will report the Alliance to the Riksdag's Committee on the Constitution over the decision to outsource the IT system in 2015.

PM Löfven called the Swedish government to an emergency meeting at the Rosenbad offices in central Stockholm on Wednesday afternoon. Government heavyweights like Foreign Minister Margot Wallström were spotted arriving at the building around 15:00.

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