STOCKHOLM (AP) — Prosecutors in Sweden said Monday the country's former ambassador to China has been indicted for unauthorized contacts with a foreign power for organizing a meeting in Stockholm between the daughter of a Swedish publisher detained in China, China's ambassador and two businessmen about the possible release of her father.
Sweden’s Foreign Ministry had no advance knowledge of the January meeting arranged by former Swedish Ambassador to China Anna Lindstedt, who was summoned home for an investigation in February.
“The ambassador is suspected of having acted outside the bounds of the authority granted to her during a meeting on a consular matter regarding the Swedish citizen Gui Minhai who is currently imprisoned in China,” Prosecutor Hans Ihrman said Monday. “At that meeting, the ambassador was in contact with persons representing the interests of the Chinese State.”
He said Lindstedt "exceeded her mandate and has therefore rendered herself criminally liable.”
“China wanted to influence Sweden's democratic freedoms and rights, in particular by trying to influence Angela Gui and her freedom of expression in her criticism of how China has handled the consular case concerning her father,” Ihrman said.
He told The Associated Press that the evidence is based on interviews of the people involved and emails, mainly from the Foreign Ministry.
“All the evidence in this case was here in Sweden,” he added.
If found guilty, Lindstedt could face up to two years in jail, Swedish broadcaster SVT said. She has denied wrongdoing. No date for a trial has been set but prosecutors said it was expected to be held in early 2020.
Lindstedt allegedly told the daughter of Gui Minhai, a naturalized Swede, that she should fly to Stockholm on Jan. 24 to explore a "new approach" to her father's case. Gui said she met for two days with the businessmen and Lindstedt, during which the businessmen told her they could arrange a Chinese visa and job for her and that they had connections within China's ruling Communist Party.
Gui said the men told her that her father could be released if she stopped talking to the media about his case, but when she questioned the plan, the mood “became really threatening.”
Her father co-owned a Hong Kong store which sold gossipy books about Chinese leaders. He went missing in 2015 from his seaside home in Thailand and turned up months later on Chinese television saying he had turned himself in for an alleged 2003 drunken driving accident in which a female college student was killed.
An investigation was launched into the meeting in February.
Ihrman told the AP the charge against Lindstedt “is unprecedented in modern times.”
Associated Press writer Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.