Swedish Academy members granted leave after scandal

Swedish Academy members granted leave after scandal
Journalists outside the Swedish Academy's headquarters last week. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
Four members of the Swedish Academy have been granted formal leave after a sexual assault scandal scuppered this year's Nobel Literature Prize.

The body has been in turmoil since November when Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter – in the wake of the global #MeToo campaign – published the testimonies of 18 women who claimed to have been raped, sexually assaulted or harassed by an influential figure with long-standing ties to the Academy.

Disagreements within the prestigious institution on how to deal with the issue sowed deep discord among its members and prompted six to quit, including the first woman permanent secretary Sara Danius.

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“Lotta Lotass, Klas Östergren and Sara Stridsberg have asked for and with immediate effect been granted leave from the Swedish Academy,” it said in a statement.

The fourth member, Kerstin Ekman, who had been inactive since 1989 over the Academy's refusal to condemn a fatwa against British author Salman Rushdie, was also granted leave. The Academy finally did condemn the fatwa 27 years later.

Lotass has also been inactive since 2015.

Katarina Frostenson, Kjell Espmark and Peter Englund have also quit the Academy.

Technically, Academy members are appointed for life but they can leave their seats empty if they so wish.

However, the scandal has led its patron, Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf, to change the statutes and make it possible for members to resign and be replaced.

The Academy is currently down to 10 active members while its statutes stipulate that 12 are needed to elect new members.

Last week it said it would postpone this year's Nobel Prize and award two next year.

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