HELSINKI — The Swedish government has come under pressure from opposition parties to explain why correspondence connected to the so-called “Saudigate affair” was removed from public files held in the State Registry. Both the Social Democrats and the Green League are demanding an inquiry to determine why pertinent documents were removed and by whom.
Defense Minister Karin Enström denied any foul play in the removal of the documents but has stopped short of supporting the inquiry sought by the main opposition parties. These parties claim the missing documents contained sensitive information about defense agency plans to deliver a weapons plant to Saudi Arabia, and that these same agencies planned to use a shell company, called SSTI, to oversee project negotiations with Saudi Arabia relating to the delivery of the plant.
Moreover, opposition officials say that one document proved Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s government had knowledge of the direct involvement of key state defense intelligence agencies to plan and deliver a missile and anti-tank weapons production facility to Saudi Arabia.
“We need to know what happened to the correspondence when it was removed, and just how much Prime Minister Reinfeldt knew of plans to use a shell company established by state defense agencies to build a weapons facility in Saudi Arabia,” said Peter Rådberg, the Green League’s spokesman on defense.
Reinfeldt told the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag, in October that he was unaware of negotiations between state defense agencies and Saudi Arabia regarding the design, construction and supply of a multiple weapons system plant, which was run under the code name Project Simoom.
“The prime minister said he wasn’t informed about this venture. It now seems the matter may come back to haunt him directly. He needs to lay his cards on the table. This was a public document, and under Sweden’s Principle of Public Access law, its removal represents a serious breach of not just trust, but the law,” Rådberg said.
The central document missing from the public file on Saudigate consists of an email that was circulated among the Swedish Defense Research Agency (Totalförsvarets Forskningsinstitut), as well as a number of other military and national security organizations, including MUST, Sweden’s military intelligence and security service.
Revelations surrounding the removed correspondence follow a decision by the Swedish prosecutor’s office to terminate its preliminary investigation into Saudigate. The prosecutor said the investigation uncovered no evidence of blatant breaches of Swedish law that could be prosecuted.
The controversy over Saudigate, which came to light last March, led to the resignation of the then-Defense Minister Sten Tolgfors.