Swe­den scan­dal takes down 2 min­is­ters

Prime min­is­ter vows to stay on de­spite snap elec­tion ru­mors

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

Two Swedish min­is­ters lost their jobs on Thurs­day over a huge leak of sen­si­tive data that has rocked the frag­ile cen­ter­left govern­ment.

But Prime Min­is­ter Ste­fan Lofven vowed he would be stay­ing on de­spite spec­u­la­tion he could call a snap elec­tion.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter An­ders Yge­man, a po­lit­i­cal heavy­weight pre­vi­ously seen as a likely fu­ture prime min­is­ter, has re­signed, Lofven said at a press con­fer­ence, adding that In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Anna Jo­hans­son will also step down.

Yge­man re­port­edly knew about the leak from the na­tional trans­port agency, which made the pri­vate data of mil­lions of cit­i­zens ac­ces­si­ble abroad, but failed to tell the prime min­is­ter.

The scan­dal has blown up in re­cent weeks af­ter it emerged that an en­tire data­base on Swedish driv­ers’ li­censes was made avail­able to tech­ni­cians in the Czech Re­pub­lic and Ro­ma­nia, with me­dia re­port­ing that the iden­ti­ties of in­tel­li­gence agents may have been jeop­ar­dized.

Lofven’s So­cial Demo­crat-led mi­nor­ity govern­ment has been badly rat­tled by one of Swe­den’s largest data breaches in decades, and op­po­si­tion par­ties had threat­ened the coali­tion with a vote of no con­fi­dence.

Some po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors had ex­pected Lofven to call an early elec­tion at Thurs­day’s press con­fer­ence – but he in­sisted that he in­tends to serve his full term, which ends in 2018.

“I have no in­ten­tion of plung­ing Swe­den into a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis,” he said, point­ing to “for­mi­da­ble chal­lenges” the coun­try is fac­ing in­clud­ing ten­sions in the Baltic re­gion, Brexit as well as the govern­ment’s plans for so­cial and eco­nomic re­forms. “I looked at sev­eral al­ter­na­tives, and I chose the best one for the coun­try,” Lofven said.

The data leak stems from the Swedish trans­port agency’s hir­ing of IBM in 2015 to take over its IT op­er­a­tions.

IBM in turn used sub­con­trac­tors in the Czech Re­pub­lic and Ro­ma­nia – mak­ing the sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion ac­ces­si­ble by for­eign tech­ni­cians who did not have se­cu­rity clear­ance.

The Swedish mil­i­tary said in­for­ma­tion on its per­son­nel, ve­hi­cles as well as de­fense and con­tin­gency plan­ning could have been in­cluded in the leak, al­though the trans­port agency de­nied hav­ing a reg­is­ter on mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles and said there was no in­di­ca­tion the data had been “spread in an im­proper way.” AFP

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