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Säpo responds to the criticism: "No flaws"

Published onsdag 25 november 2015 kl 19.09
Säpo's deputy head Johan Sjöö. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT.
Säpo's deputy head Johan Sjöö. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT.

After the 22-year-old terrorist suspect was set free, cleared of all suspicion, the intelligence and security service has been criticised. But the agency's deputy head Johan Sjöö says no mistakes were made during the investigation.

"We have been working as we should be. We get information that something is about to happen and we act on that information. A few days pass and we can clear this person from suspicion," Sjöö told Swedish Radio News.

Last week, the intelligence and security services (Säpo) issued a warrant for the arrest of a 22-year old man from Iraq, who was wanted on suspicion of preparing a terrorist attack. His name and picture was given to police on the beat all around Sweden, and soon it had been leaked to the media. But after the man was arrested and questioned, he was cleared of all suspicion and set free.

It turned out that the man lived openly in Sweden, he had his name on the door, and was registered with the Migration Agency and was active on Facebook, critics have questioned why Säpo launched a nationwide manhunt. There were speculations that a mistaken spelling of his name had led to Säpo not finding the man. But Johan Sjöö dismisses that.

"We have of course a very high competency when it comes to investigating people in social media, and finding people in databases, we have good language experts, so there are no flaws there at all," he said.

But the question remains: he was in the Migration Agency's database, he had an adress, he lived completely in the open, why could you not find him without issuing a warrant for his arrest?

"if you are to understand our actions and why it was urgent, you would have to go back to the information we got originally and which we had to go on to start with, and which I unfortunately cannot describe in terms of its content or where it came from," said Sjöö.

Should that be interpreted that you did not have enough time to go looking for him, but had to issue the warrant straight away?

"I cannot comment on what happened at that stage."

But as far as you are concerned, the intelligence and security police have in no way flawed or acted incorrectly or failed in some way in this matter?

"No, I cannot see that we have flawed or failed with the task," said Sjöö.

Johan Sjöö cannot give any details as to how Säpo has worked in this matter, but he says that only a small group of people have the full picture in this case. He stresses that the task of the agency is to prevent attacks before they take place. This means that they have to act fast, even if not all the information is at hand.

"We cannot passively wait for things to happen if we suspect that something could happen," he said.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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