Swedish Opposition Still Wants to Topple Defence Minister
(Source: Radio Sweden; issued Aug 17, 2017)
Sweden's four-party Alliance opposition has pledged to push ahead with its no-confidence motion against Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist after two parliamentary committees met for emergency meetings on Thursday.

"We got no answers as to why this important information, which was like a blinking red light, was never taken up at the State Secretary level," Mikael Oscarsson from the Christian Democrats, told the TT newswire.

"Why it wasn't forwarded on to, for example, Emma Lennartsson, who is Stefan Löfven's State Secretary."

Sweden's parliamentary watchdog, the Committee on the Constitution, met on Thursday morning to decide how it would carry out its coming investigation of the Transport Agency's controversial IT outsourcing deal.

The committee will also investigate how Sweden's government responded when it realised that by failing to implement proper security measures, the deal had given IT workers in Eastern Europe access to a huge amount of classified Swedish data.

The parliament's defence committee held a meeting in the early afternoon in which it questioned General Per Micael Bydén, the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, and Jan Salestrand, State Secretary to the Minister of Defence.

Salestrand told the Swedish parliament's Defence Committee that he had been informed that the Transport Agency's IT outsourcing represented a security risk as early as March 2016, nearly a year before Hultqvist has said he was informed.

The Committee on the Constitution's members agreed that they would aim to submit the conclusions of their inquiry in June next year, a critical time in the build-up to the general election in September.

"We are agreed that we should follow an ordinary timetable," said the committee's chairman Andreas Norlén, from the Moderate Party.

The committee's vice chairman Björn von Sydow, from the Social Democrats, said the committee had asked to be given the full content of the investigation into the affair carried out by Sweden's Säpo security services.

"We believe that the investigation may be of significant importance in enabling us to follow the course of events," he said.

In parallel with the committee's investigation, Sweden's governemnt has appointed Thomas Bull, a judge in the Supreme Administrative Court, to carry out an investigation of the affair which will report at the end of next January.

Two ministers, former Home Affairs Minister Anders Ygeman and Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson, resigned at the end of July after the opposition Alliance parties said they would table a no-confidence motion agaisnt three ministers for their respective roles in the scandal.

But Hultqvist, the third minister targeted, stayed in place.

The scandal broke in July after journalists from the Dagens Nyheter newspaper began investigating why Maria Ågren, the former director General of Sweden's Transport Agency, had been dismissed from her post and fined.

They discovered that she had at the end of 2015 overridden both Swedish law and the objections of Säpo to outsource management of some of the Transport Agency's key databases to IBM, where it was managed by technicians based in Eastern Europe who lacked proper security clearance.

The Agency on Thursday confirmed that this had included the licence plates of more than 100 non-military vehicles owned by the Swedish Armed Forces.


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