How Sweden Collaborated With CIA on Renditions and Framing of Assange

By Rafik Saley, Okoth Osewe, and John Goss

By his own admission, Sweden’s Ambassador to Australia Mr. Sven-Olof Petersson had advance knowledge of the CIA rendition flight that took place on December 18, 2001 from Stockholm to Egypt. This flight ended in Egyptian nationals Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery being illegally rendered and tortured. Mr. Petersson’s admission comes from a statement to the Swedish Parliament’s Constitutional Committee, confirming that he attended a briefing on December 17, 2001 at which the rendition process was finalized. Moreover, the Constitutional Committee’s report shows that he knew about the renditions at the end of November and probably even in mid-November. In fact, it was he who kept Minister of Foreign Affairs Anna Lindh updated on the progress of deportation arrangements with the CIA in November 2001.[i] Petersson was then Sweden’s Director General for Political Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[ii]

Illegal and unconstitutional decisions of this sort, made behind closed doors, show contempt for the Swedish legal system, which has been further denigrated by attempts to get Wikileaks founder Julian Assange flown to Sweden on flimsy allegations of a sexual nature, from where, concerned parties believe the CIA would pick him up and put him on trial in the United States. Ironically, it was through Wikileaks that the world learned about the diplomatic tiff between the US and Sweden that brought an end to Swedish rendition in 2006.[iii]

As the Director General for Political Affairs, Mr. Petersson was in regular contact with the US Embassy in Stockholm and was aware of the US request that two Egyptian nationals be illegally rendered.[iv] The rendition went ahead without protest or representation on behalf of the victims, and no one in the Swedish government has been made accountable for this flagrant breach of the law. An admission of Sweden’s culpability can be found in the SEK 3 million (about $458,000) compensation paid to each of the two men after their eventual release.[v] This “hush money” appears to have paid for the non-disclosure of the identities of the Swedish representatives who sought assurances from Cairo prior to the men’s rendition.[vi]

Not only Petersson, but also Minister of Justice Thomas Bodström and then Foreign Minister Anna Lindh knew about the renditions.[vii] Thomas Bodström spent a year in the US between 2010 – 2011, purportedly for rehabilitation in connection with alcohol and substance abuse, while he was a partner in the legal firm Borgström & Bodström. It would be lax not to point out to readers that Claes Borgström is the lawyer who was called upon to prosecute Julian Assange over allegations that had previously been dismissed. Further, Borgström is known to be friendly with Irmeli Krans, the police interrogator who took SW’s original statement against Assange. Irmeli Krans, in turn, is friendly with the other complainant, AA, who, it is said, illegally sat in on Irmeli Krans’ interview of SW.[viii]

The rendered Egyptians, both of whom were asylum seekers, were returned to Egypt despite Sweden’s Aliens Act (1989) that forbids repatriation to a country where nationals are likely to be tortured. It was well known even then that Egypt uses torture against political prisoners.[ix] The torture of both men on the flight to Egypt, included them being hooded, handcuffed and strapped down. The brutality of the torture in Egypt was captured in a comment by Mr. Agiza who noted that the interrogators routinely beat him, strapped him to a wet mattress and subjected him to electric shock through electrodes attached to his ear lobes, nipples, and genitals.[x]

Mr. Petersson´s statements to the Australian media on the impartiality of the Swedish legal system ring hollow when judged against his prior personal involvement in renditions. Even more disturbing is the fact that they have been echoed by Australian Foreign minister Bob Carr. The adoption of the statements shows a lack of judgment on Carr’s part and brings the Australian government’s foreign policy under scrutiny. Carr has urged Assange to travel to Sweden and claimed that it was unlikely that he would be extradited.[xi] Recent statements by EU Home Affairs Minister Cecilia Malmström, urging Mr. Assange to “just go to Sweden” have the same hollow ring.[xii] Malmström has worked closely with US interests in Sweden and elsewhere in adopting harsh measures to stifle free speech in Europe. She purports to know nothing about the Assange case. On the other hand, her partiality and close affinity to the United States are demonstrated by her recent joint briefing with US attorney general Eric Holder.[xiii] She has also co-authored an article with him.[xiv]

The question on every reasonable person’s lips is: why can’t the Swedish government “just give Mr. Assange the diplomatic guarantees that he has asked for?” In light of Sweden´s complicity in illegal rendition right up to 2006, a diplomatic guarantee to Assange that he won’t be extradited to the US is of integral importance. After all, the Swedish government has the final say in the matter and, if its past history in illegal renditions is anything to go by, Assange’s fears about extradition or rendition to the United States are justifiable.

The Swedish Ambassador accuses Sydney Morning Herald columnist Elizabeth Farrelly of having no knowledge of Sweden.[xv] It is imperative that the columnist learns about Sweden and its foreign policy of the past 20 years, so she might pass on the sinister dealings to her readership. Until recent years, Sweden had a peace policy of which to be proud. For 150 years, the country abstained from war and, in 1966, to celebrate this highly-enviable record, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) was established. After Sweden started cooperating with NATO, the situation began to change.[xvi] Not long afterwards, the Swedish military became involved in world conflicts, and more recently it has looked poised for greater involvement.[xvii] This is not the old Sweden but a new country that demonstrates an unparalleled hypocrisy in its international relations. This trend continues in the refusal by authorities to grant Assange the reasonable assurances that he seeks.

Prominent international supporters of Mr. Assange, like Baltasar Garzon, John Pilger, Michael Moore, and Jemima Khan are ridiculed in Sweden today. In addition to the recent changes in foreign and domestic policy, the third largest political party in the country, called Sweden Democrats (SD), has made massive gains during the last elections, despite openly calling for the repatriation of immigrants from Sweden. The SD party enjoyed a 10%  parliamentary share of the vote, which translated into 20 Parliamentary seats. The Swedish government seems to be following the direction of the SD party, especially in its foreign policy positions, which are increasingly pro-American and anti-democratic.

Because of Sweden’s pro-American stance on key political issues, a legal system has developed with multiple loopholes that could easily be exploited to Assange’s disadvantage. This legal framework is constitutionally racist against foreigners, especially when they contest ethnic Swedish nationals of the cherished blond-haired, blue-eyed Nordic model. Most worrying of all, Sweden’s history of hypocrisy, lopsidedness and double-speak in dealings with the international community highlights the risk that Julian Assange would be in physical danger if extradited to Sweden from the UK. Under such circumstances, it is reasonable for him to seek unequivocal diplomatic assurances that he would not be extradited to the US if he agrees to go to Sweden for questioning.

Despite the pressures from the United States and other pro-western governments, the Republic of Ecuador has granted political asylum to Mr. Assange. On the other hand, the United Kingdom has hindered the free movement of Mr. Assange even though the same government blocked the extradition to Spain of the late Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet. Mr. Pinochet was wanted for the murder of 94 Spanish citizens and many other charges of torture and rape against his own people. Although Julian Assange is an Australian citizen, the Australian government has refused to protect him and has instead accommodated Swedish Ambassador Sven-Olof Petersson, who supports rendition and torture. This is unacceptable in a free, democratic and transparent society.

Editor’s Notes: Rafik Saley is general secretary of the African Committee for Development in Stockholm, Sweden; Okoth Osewe writes for Kenya Stockholm Blog; John Goss is a writer and researcher, United Kingdom.

References

[i] http://data.riksdagen.se/dokument/GT01KU2

[ii] http://www.swedenabroad.com/en-GB/Embassies/Canberra/About-us/Embassy-Staff/The-Ambassador/

[iii] http://www.swedishwire.com/politics/7497-cia-rendition-flights-stopped-by-swedish-military

[iv] http://data.riksdagen.se/dokument/GT01KU2

[v] http://www.civilrightsdefenders.org/news/swedish-ahmed-agiza-frislappt/

[vi] http://www.redress.org/CAT_2005_AgizavSweden.pdf (Paragraph 4.12)

[vii] http://data.riksdagen.se/dokument/GT01KU2

[viii] http://www.swedenversusassange.com/Police-Bias.html

[ix] http://www.redress.org/CAT_2005_AgizavSweden.pdf (Paragraph 3.3)

[x] http://www.expose-the-war-profiteers.org/archive/legal/2008-1/20080630.pdf P3

[xi] http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/carr-hits-back-at-assange-attacks-as-lawyer-hints-at-surprise-in-store-20120824-24pq7.html

[xii] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eu-official-tells-julian-assange-just-go-to-sweden-8376295.html

[xiii] http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/photo/photoByReportageNews.cfm?rid=8543&sitelang=en

[xiv] http://www.todayszaman.com/news-299892-the-borderless-crime-against-children-by-cecilia-malmstrom-eric-holder*.html

[xv] http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/ambassadors-rage-doesnt-dispel-facts-20121128-2ae99.html

[xvi] http://books.sipri.org/files/misc/SIPRI01NSD.pdf

[xvii] http://rt.com/news/sweden-nato-military-protest/

Editor’s Note: Photographs four and eight by Wikileaks Mobile Information Collection Unit.

 

 

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23 Responses to How Sweden Collaborated With CIA on Renditions and Framing of Assange

  1. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1dakota calhoon
    December 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    As an Australian abroad, I have to say Australia’s reputation is really starting to SUCK. We used to be much better, and well-liked around the globe, but ever since that female prime minister started becoming a George Bush ass-licker, our popularity has gone downhill, and quickly. Granted John Howard is equally to blame, coming off more British in his conservative governmental characteristics than Australian. These are the two people that have made Australia SUCK today. And let’s not forget Rupert Murdoch who saturated our Aussie culture with all that American crap. You may not realize it Julian, but you have many solid supporters. Keep up the good work and hopefully goodness will prevail. That’s what the people want. :-) )

    • +5 Vote -1 Vote +1gregorylent
      December 20, 2012 at 2:20 am

      Sweden’s reputation as well … it has lost it all

    • Vote -1 Vote +1ang
      December 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      So in what way has Julia Gillard a-licked George Bush. She did not have anything to do with him when she was just a minister and by the time she was PM GB had been long gone. Get your facts straight.

      • Vote -1 Vote +1Thomas Vesely
        December 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm

        She went there, bowed to chief anus and brought back a U$A base.

  2. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1HM
    December 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    why am i not surprised….

  3. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1thomas vesely
    December 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    This matter will stain Sweden’s reputation for a long time…..

  4. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1fulldisclosure
    December 19, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Apparently, the CIA never learns.

    • +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Bar Beleth
      December 22, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Oh they learn alright. They just don’t care.

  5. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1ingo
    December 20, 2012 at 3:40 am

    Excellent collaborative work here and example for journalists to learn from, i.e. dig deeper. It makes a mockery of Julian Assange position. His self incarceration has to be lifted, as the evidence now shows that he has been conspired against; the latest two blogs shut down in Sweden make this abundantly clear. Further Sweden’s ‘establishment’ judiciary and its structures are now under scrutiny like never before. Well done the authors and a happy soltsice to all.

  6. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Tar Atanamir
    December 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Funny how the change in Swedish foreign policy came in 2006. What could have changed it? Could it be that there was an election that year in which the Socialdemocrats lost power to a center-liberal coalition?

    “It is imperative that the columnist learns about Sweden and its foreign policy of the past 20 years”
    -Yes, lets. Time for some good old reality check.

    “Until recent years, Sweden had a peace policy of which to be proud. For 150 years, the country abstained from war ”
    -Most nations abstain from war, many are neutral (like the US), they got invaded anyway, Sweden did not. During the cold war Sweden was one of the most militarized countries in the world with “a policy of: non-alignment in peace, to enable neutrality in war.”

    “After Sweden started cooperating with NATO, the situation began to change. Not long afterwards, the Swedish military became involved in world conflicts”
    -Sweden took part in international cooperations through the UN as early as the Korean war and the most intense commitment came with the Kongo crisis (1960-65). From the Korean war up to now Sweden have sent peacekeeping forces to many of the UNs most dangerous missions, like Lebanon, Bosnia and more recently Liberia and Afghanistan. Sweden joined the PFP in 1994, along with nations like Russia and Switzerland.

    This part was so hilarious!

    “In addition to the recent changes in foreign and domestic policy,”
    -Due to new government, out with the socialdemocrats and in with the center-liberals. Believe it or not, but it makes a slight difference.

    “the third largest political party in the country,”
    -In the very most recent opinion polls yes (12,3%), but just third smallest in the parliament (5,70%) – out of eight parties.

    “called Sweden Democrats (SD), has made massive gains during the last elections,”
    -Yes, the elections in 2010 where they increased from 2,93% to 5,70% of the national vote. MASSIVE gains! Nearly double the size! *irony*

    “despite openly calling for the repatriation of immigrants from Sweden.”
    -Lies and propaganda from the opposition. The SD want to restrain the worlds most liberal immigration policy and put it on a level similar to Canada or Finland. Which would mean a immigration reduction of about 90%.
    The only people who the SD thinks should be repatriated are criminals and people who have lied on their asylum applications. In other worlds: a normal immigration policy.

    “The SD party enjoyed a 10% parliamentary share of the vote, which translated into 20 Parliamentary seats.”
    -WRONG. As stated earlier they got 5,70% of the vote, and that gave them 20 seats, out of 349.

    “The Swedish government seems to be following the direction of the SD party,”
    -The position of ALL the other parties is that they refuse to have anything to do with SD. Its even so bad that they refuse to vote for their own stuff if the SD happen to support it. So the notion that the govt is following the SD direction is just ludicrous.

    “especially in its foreign policy positions, which are increasingly pro-American and anti-democratic.”
    -Corrected: The govt is increasingly anti-Swedish and anti-democratic.
    The SD is anti-EU, pro-Israel and strongly pro-democracy.

    “This legal framework is constitutionally racist against foreigners, especially when they contest ethnic Swedish nationals of the cherished blond-haired, blue-eyed Nordic model.”
    -I reality is it the total opposite. Political correctness is an ABSOLUTE in Sweden, so immigrants literally get away with murder and rape, and when they are sentenced they get way smaller sentences then native Swedes get. Immigrants are protected against hate speech while Swedes are intentionally not included. In other words: a pure RACE-law that discriminate Swedes based on ethnicity.
    And thus people vote for the Sweden Democrats.

  7. -12 Vote -1 Vote +1Blon Dee
    December 20, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    I’m a cherished blond-haired, blue-eyed Nordic from Sweden and I don’t like your insinuation that Assange would be set up. He is wanted for a hearing regarding sexual misconduct, not for his associations with Wikileaks.

    • +6 Vote -1 Vote +1John Goss
      December 21, 2012 at 3:06 am

      Although there have been lots of articles written about how Anna Ardin and SW set up Julian Assange. If you Google ‘The Wikileaks, Julian Assange Diplomatic Standoff — Animated’ the video it brings up explains what happened. If you still think it is not a set up I am sorry.

      The above article is not aimed against Swedish people so much as how Sweden has changed from a peace-loving and welcoming country into a US puppet-state with an ambassador to Australia who believes in extradition and rendition. Remember the allegations had already been dismissed before Claes Borgström saw an opportunity to serve his US masters. It’s as simple as that!

    • +9 Vote -1 Vote +1Daniel
      December 22, 2012 at 1:23 am

      This is exactly why I hate my country so much. Ignorant Swedes completely blinded by their nationalism. They see themselves as being best in the world and they love to point their fingers to corruption happening anywhere but their home country. Hypocrites.

      • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Anon
        December 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm

        So now when millions of people are “watching”, do you seriously believe Sweden will do the same “mistake” again and send Assange to US?

        • Vote -1 Vote +1Thomas Vesely
          December 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm

          Yes, I do.

    • +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Bar Beleth
      December 22, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      Just because it’s dark there for half the year doesn’t mean you have to walk around with your eyes closed. They’ve got to your Government, the same as they’ve got to everyone else’s. And as a Nation, you just rolled over and lubed up. The CIA aren’t answerable to any sovereign State. They have a deal with the USA, for nominal Statehood, and in return, they agree not to actively operate on American soil. They are freelance international Pirates, and they collect pissant little Governments like yours, like Baseball cards. They like your blonde hair and Nordic genes for a reason Sweden. You will be the stock for their new eugenics program. And you can’t see it, because of your trust in your leaders, who sold you down the river in 2006. Now you have new masters.

  8. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Anon
    December 22, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Didn’t anyone in Sweden or in the CIA watch V for Vendetta?

    You can arrest, torture and kill a man, but Assange represents more than just flesh and blood, he represents an Idea.

    An idea of freedom of information, where governments are held accountable for their actions and where people who reveal the truth are heralded as the heroes that they are.

    You can kill Assange, but you will never kill Wikileaks.

    So long as the human species isn’t lobotomised physically or chemically, there will always be those of us who refuse to silently oblige to our governments ill-wishes.

    • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bar Beleth
      December 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      The CIA subverted the whole paradigm of the Movie to reinforce their preferred theatre of operations. That of American values, ground into dust under the heel of a fascist bootheel. And encouraging the idea of Public Insurrection, and how it can triumph. (It can’t)That’s the whole reason Alan Moore disassociated himself from the whole project, refusing to take even his writers royalties from it. Do you not see how they play both sides yet?

  9. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Maurício
    December 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    My idea of Sweden was one of a heaven of justice, big wealth, equality and democracy on earth, untouched by all the rest. Now that image is completely destroyed. The Assange case has reduced this country to Puerto Rico, the American territory. That´s all about it, the rest is propaganda.
    Because in today´s capitalism, companies and their lust for profit have completely replaced nation states. So this is the arms industry controlling the U.S. When somebody denounces corruption, lies and wars, those puppet governments act on behalf of their $$ masters, and persecute the guy.

    • Vote -1 Vote +1Tar Atanamir
      December 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      The economic system today is not capitalism. It is ‘crony-capitalism’, otherwise known as corporatism, which is one of the cornerstones of fascism.

  10. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Oliver
    December 23, 2012 at 1:34 am

    I live in Sweden and this is a nice country. Nevertheless there are tons of issues that needs to be dealt with. The MSM here made a big fuzz some years ago concerning the CIA planes. Nothing really came out of that. Our politicians think they have the best ideas but improper judgements are done everywhere. I think Sweden got away from its core beliefs when Olof Palme was assassinated. They blamed Kurdish separatists amongst other. The assassination was de facto a coup d’etat in slow motion.

  11. +8 Vote -1 Vote +1average aussie
    December 23, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Sweden may well have been the best country for peace and not going to war for the last 150 years, but the truth is that these last 20 years explain exactly how Sweden operates now since they advanced their involvement in world conflicts, and the fact is that they are purely fabricating evidence to hand Assange to the GR8 USA. The USA is disgusting in its lies and betrayal of any soul in the world. All Assange has done is inform the world about what all the corrupt countries in the world already know. For this he is a terrorist to the USA and AUS government and not to forget SWEDEN. Why Australia refuses to offer Assange any assistance, well this is purely for USA to pursue its criminal actions through its new found or old found guinea pig as in SWEDEN. It is the greatest shame and embarrassment as an Aussie that our government has handed him to the USA signed sealed and delivered on the next tsunami heading from ENG to SWEDEN, considering the AUSTRALIAN PM has much serious evidence against her being corrupt documented on kangaroocourtofaustralia . She still pleads innocent and asks not to be judged, despite statutory declarations and the rest of evidence about her $million fraud. The fact that she has pre-judged Assange and offered him to the USA for crimes he hasn’t committed is a disgrace to Australia and any country in the world. The truth is, only conviction can be achieved against Assange, as corruption prevails over justice in any country that supports the USA. If only Assange was from our tiny neighbour New Zealand, he would have been home and safe from the murderous USA. Shame on Australia’s government selling any citizen to the USA for brownie points. Utterly disgraceful.

  12. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Mareli
    December 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Assange can take no chances and should trust no governments save Ecuador’s. I wish he could get to ecuador itself, but he can’t take the chance of being kidnapped and smuggled to the US, where he would be abused just as Bradley Manning has been.