Sweden's news in English

Editions:  Austria · Denmark · France · Germany · Italy · Norway · Spain · Sweden · Switzerland

Sweden investigates ambassador's 'secret' meetings about jailed bookseller

Share this article

Sweden investigates ambassador's 'secret' meetings about jailed bookseller
Sweden's Ambassador to China, pictured here in 2013, is accused of unauthorized negotiations relating to the release of an imprisoned Chinese-born Swede. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT
11:29 CET+01:00
Sweden's Foreign Ministry has recalled its ambassador in Beijing for acting "wrongly" regarding the case of an imprisoned Chinese-born Swede.

The ambassador to China was allegedly involved in unauthorized negotiations to get the imprisoned bookseller released. Ambassador Anna Lindstedt is currently in Stockholm for an investigation by the foreign ministry, with a temporary replacement in the Beijing embassy.

Angela Gui, daughter of imprisoned bookseller Gui Minhai, said that she was invited to a "secret" meeting with Chinese businessmen by the Swedish ambassador.

She wrote about the "very strange experience" in a blog post on the site Medium on Wednesday.

Gui said she travelled to Stockholm in late January at Lindstedt's invitation, for a meeting with businessmen the ambassador said could assist Gui's father.

"There was a lot of wine, a lot of people, and a lot of increasingly strange questions," Gui wrote. "But because Ambassador Lindstedt was present and seemingly supportive of whatever it was that was going on, I kept assuming that this had been initiated by the Swedish Foreign Ministry."

She wrote that the meetings mostly took place in a hotel lounge only accessible by a key card, and when Gui wanted to meet a friend she was told to invite the friend to the lounge as well. Gui, who has spent the years since her father's imprisonment campaigning for his release, said the businessmen made vague promises to help her father and even offered her a job in China and help arranging a visa.

Gui Minhai was one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers who disappeared in 2015 (while he was on holiday in Thailand) and resurfaced in mainland China. In 2016, he appeared on Chinese television saying he had returned to take responsibility for his involvement in a fatal car accident years before in Zheijiang province, a confession roundly dismissed by rights campaigners.

He was released in October 2017, though his daughter has said he was living under surveillance in a police-managed apartment at this point, and he was arrested again in January 2018.

READ ALSO:

The businessmen claimed to be in touch with the Chinese Communist Party, Gui said in her blog post, and at one point offered to help her father in exchange for Gui's silence and an end to her campaigning. They also claimed that Lindstedt's career would be damaged if Gui continued to speak to media.

"Ambassador Lindstedt, who was sat next to me, agreed to the plan. She said that if my father was released, she'd go on Swedish television and speak of the bright future of Sweden-China relations, as well as express regret over the Chinese tourist hotel incident in Stockholm last year, and the subsequent coverage of it on a Swedish comedy show," Gui wrote.

After leaving the meeting, Gui said she was told by foreign ministry officials that they had not been informed of the meeting and didn't know Lindstedt was in the country. 

"We have got a picture of what happened, we are going to investigate the actions, but we can already say that the ambassador acted incorrectly," Patric Nilsson, head of the foreign ministry's press office told SVT Nyheter.

Gui had referred to the offer made in the meeting in a Svenska Dagbladet interview in early February, after which the Chinese Embassy in Sweden put out a statement saying that "the Chinese side has never authorized and will not authorize anyone to engage with Gui Minhai's daughter".

Sweden's security police Säpo said on Thursday that it had launched an investigation into "arbitrary conduct when negotiating with a foreign power" but declined to say if it was linked to Lindstedt's meeting.

READ ALSO: Daughter of imprisoned Swedish bookseller nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

 
Get notified about breaking news on The Local

Share this article

The Local is not responsible for content posted by users.
Become a Member or sign-in to leave a comment.

From our sponsors