Defence Minister Karin Enström can't explain the missing e-mail, her predecessor Sten Tolgfors denied knowledge of the deal. Montage: Sveriges Radio
saudi arabia

Minister cannot explain why arms deal document removed

An e-mail that would have revealed that the government has lied has disappeared from the official archives, Swedish Radio News reports.

The government has confirmed that the Ministry of Defense deleted the email from the Swedish Defense Research Agency. It contained information about the Agency’s front company, which was set up with the intention of funding the building of a weapons factory in Saudi Arabia. At the time, the government denied all knowledge of what the public agency had done in secret.

Last March Swedish Radio News reported that the Swedish Defence Research Agency broke the rules when they secretly set up the front company.

The Kingdom is regarded as a dictatorship in Sweden, and its treatment of women is particularly criticised here. The idea of helping the Saudis make weapons was not popular, and the whole project is now the subject of an inquiry by parliament’s Committee on the Constitution.

At the time, the government denied all knowledge of what the public agency had done in secret. But that didn’t prevent Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors being forced to resign. He was replaced by Karin Enström.

Now Swedish Radio reporters have found an e-mail from the agency, sent in 2010, telling the Ministry of Defence about the deal. But the letter is no longer in the archives, and according to the government offices, it never existed.

The e-mail was sent by Lars Höstbeck at the Defence Research Agency:

"Did I send a message like that," he asks Swedish Radio News? "I don’t remember."

The recipient of the e-mail was reportedly Per Andersson at the Ministry of Defence. The reporters called him up. But after a friendly greeting, he tells them to talk to the ministry’s press secretary.

All such e-mails are supposed to be logged into the official archives. But the letter from the defence agency to the ministry isn’t there. In fact, the government says it was never there because it never existed. That according to government lawyer Erik Brandel, who also talked to the Swedish Radio reporters:

"If I’ve written that it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t," he says. "I haven’t lied."

Finally the journalists turned to Defence Minister Karin Enström, and showed her a copy of the missing e-mail. They asked why it wasn’t in the archives. Her reply was “You’re sticking this paper in my face...I can’t answer that question...I am assuming we are following the rules”…before her press secretary breaks up the interview.

The Swedish Parliament’s Committee on the Constitution is holding an inquiry into the Saudi affair. The committee’s chair, Peter Eriksson, tells Swedish Radio News they have requested all the relevant documents, but this apparently very important file has not been turned over to them. Peter Eriksson says the failure is very serious and risks damaging the entire system.

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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