Financial Markets Minister Peter Norman and the TeliaSonera logo. Montage of file photos from Scanpix.
Company accused of internet censorship

Government accepts TeliaSonera's actions

Sweden's financial markets minister Peter Norman told Swedish Radio he accepts the actions of Telia Sonera, despite reports that that a subsidiary of the mostly state-owned Swedish-Finnish telecoms company has blocked access to independent news sites in Tajikistan, on the orders of that country’s government.

TeliaSonera has been criticised in the past for serving the interests of authoritarian regimes in its operations abroad. TeliaSonera is made up of the former public telephone companies of Sweden and Finland, and remains mostly owned by the Swedish and Finnish states. It is also the majority owner of the Tajik company TCell, and according to reports TCell has blocked access to some 50 websites.

When asked by Swedish Radio whether the company's actions in Tajikistan is considered acceptable by the Swedish government, financial markets minister Peter Norman said he thought it was.

"I spoke to the company's management today", said Norman. "My impression is that the company has ambitious plans to strenghten sustainability and to emphasise human rights issues."

Norman expressed concern over the flaws in TeliaSonera's transparency policies, but said that on the whole he supports the company's business in Tajikistan.

"Having busniess in mobile telecom services in a dictatorship is highly valuable. It's remarkable that the citizens can connect and speak to one another, and that it creates economic growth", Norman said.

However, Maria Fern, the Green Party's representative in the justice department, disagrees.

"I think it's very serious that they are blocking the free and independent press", she said.

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