Swedish authorities said on Wednesday that the country's ambassador to China was under criminal investigation for breaching national security, after she was called back to Stockholm amid reports of her role in arranging unauthorised meetings about the case of detained bookseller Gui Minhai.
Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hans Ihrman confirmed Swedish media reports that Anna Lindstedt was "under ongoing investigation" for the relevant national security crimes without further elaboration, the Swedish Prosecution Authority told the South China Morning Post in an email reply.
It was reported earlier that Lindstedt had been recalled from Beijing to meet with Swedish foreign ministry officials, and Stockholm later said it was conducting an internal investigation over her "incorrect action" connected to events occurring at the end of January.
Lindstedt was embroiled in a political storm after Angela Gui, the daughter of Swedish book publisher Gui Minhai, wrote in a public post on Medium on February 13 that the Swedish ambassador was involved in arranging an unauthorised meeting between her and unidentified Chinese businessmen.
In the post, Gui said that Lindstedt had asked her to come to Stockholm on January 24 for "a new approach" to her father's case, but ended up in a meeting with unnamed Chinese businessmen who offered to help secure her father's release. She said they threatened her to stop engaging with the media or it would damage Lindstedt's career, and that she had to trust them or she would never see her father again.
When Gui later contacted Swedish foreign affairs officials, they told her that they were not aware of the meeting.
"I'm not going to be quiet in exchange for a visa and an arbitrary promise that my father 'might' be released," Gui wrote in her public post, calling the meeting "a government official's rogue operation".
"Threats, verbal abuse, bribes, or flattery won't change that," she wrote.
The Swedish embassy in Beijing declined to comment on Lindstedt's case on Wednesday, saying that the investigation was active. The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Swedish Police Authority also declined to comment.
Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born naturalised Swedish citizen, was one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers who disappeared in late 2015 but resurfaced later in mainland China. The affair saw the associates, all from the Causeway Bay Bookstore and Mighty Current Publishing House - which published salacious books about the lives of past and current Chinese leaders - vanish from Thailand, Hong Kong and mainland China.
It was later revealed that all five were investigated for their alleged "illegal business" of selling banned books through underground channels to buyers on the mainland.
Gui, owner of the bookstore and publishing house, was released in October 2017 after serving a two-year sentence for a drink-driving offence from 2003. He was arrested again three months later on a train to Beijing, when he was accompanied by two Swedish diplomats, on charges of leaking state secrets abroad.
China denies it met daughter of detained bookseller Gui Minhai
Sweden has condemned the way Beijing has handled Gui's case, and demanded that the bookseller be released and reunited with his family immediately. China, however, has insisted that it has handled the case "in accordance with the law".
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