Sweden’s former China ambassador ‘welcomes’ criminal investigation

Sweden's former ambassador to China has been appointed a criminal lawyer in the ongoing investigation of her 'secret' meeting with the daughter of imprisoned bookseller Gui Minhai.

Sweden's former China ambassador 'welcomes' criminal investigation
Former ambassador Anna Lindstedt. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Sweden recalled Anna Lindstedt after Angela Gui accused the diplomat of having invited her to a “very strange” meeting with Chinese businessmen who claimed they could assist Gui's father. Sweden's foreign ministry said it had not been informed of the meeting in advance.

The ambassador has now been appointed a lawyer and is suspected of “crime against the security of the realm”, according to several Swedish media referring to court documents.

“My client has no other comment at the moment than that she denies any crime and welcomes an investigation,” Lindstedt's lawyer Conny Cedermark told Dagens Nyheter.

Prosecutor Hans Ihrman, who is already in charge of an ongoing investigation of “arbitrary conduct when negotiating with a foreign power” understood to be linked to Lindstedt's meeting, told news agency TT no one was in custody in connection with the allegations. 

“I don't want to say more right now, but things will become clearer further ahead,” he said.

READ ALSO: Watchdog tells China to 'stop harassing' Swedish journalists

Angela Gui. Photo: Anders Ahlgren/SvD/TT

The investigation was sparked after Angela Gui wrote about the meeting in a blog post on the site Medium last month. Gui said she travelled to Stockholm in 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.

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.

Lindstedt has not spoken about the allegations other than denying having committed a crime.

Gui Minhai first disappeared in 2015. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

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. 

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.

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Sweden’s Volvo Cars may merge with Chinese owner Geely

Sweden's Volvo Cars and its Chinese owner Geely announced on Monday that they are considering merging into a single group in order to share resources, but would preserve their separate brands.

Sweden's Volvo Cars may merge with Chinese owner Geely
File photo of a Volvo test-drive. Photo: Christine Olsson / TT

The merged firm “would have the scale, knowledge and resources to be a leader in the ongoing transformation of the automotive industry,” they said in a statement.

“The combination would preserve the distinct identity of each of the brands Volvo, Geely, Lynk & Co and Polestar,” they added.

Geely bought Volvo in 2010 from Ford which hadn't been able to turn around the Swedish automaker. But under the Chinese firm Volvo has rebounded and smashed its sales records.

Volvo sold more than 705,000 vehicles in 2019, besting the record it set in 2018 by 10 percent, and the automaker expects continued growth this year.

The statement said the firms would create a joint working group to prepare a proposal for the boards of both firms.

“A combined company would have access to the global capital market through Hong Kong and with the intention to subsequently list in Stockholm as well,” it added.

Volvo put off a share listing in 2018 due to tensions in global markets.