Lindh, who was assassinated in 2003, has long been seen as the one responsible for deciding to expel Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed Alzery to Egypt in late 2001.
But her friend and former press secretary Eva Franchell writes in a new book released on Monday that the commonly held view doesn’t tell the whole story.
While Lindh did indeed prepare the case ahead of the government’s decision to deport the Egyptians, Franchell claims that the foreign minister had a long conversation with then-prime minister Göran Persson before she began working on the case.
“I think that she felt a lot of pressure from the situation,” Franchell told the TT news agency, adding that she believes Persson was aware of what was going on as the matter unfolded.
“Would Anna Lindh deport two suspected terrorists, in violation of human rights law, to a country that uses torture and then rely on the CIA to get them out and then wait several months before she told her boss? That’s a very unlikely scenario,” said Franchell, referring the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency's role in the matter.
The Aftonbladet newspaper, which reviewed an advance copy of the book, entitled Väninnan: Rapport från Rosenbad (‘Girlfriend: an account from Rosenbad’), wrote in its Sunday edition that the United Sates wanted the CIA to help with the deportations of the Egyptians, threatening to implement a trade boycott against the EU if its wishes weren’t met.
“I don’t know exactly how serious the threat was, but I’ve had it confirmed by many sources that Sweden was under a huge amount of pressure,” said Franchell.
She also describes that the justice minister at the time, Thomas Bodström, was made aware of the case the same as Anna Lindh, December 17th, 2001 – the day before the deportations took place.
“It’s confirmed by an email which I was given,” said Franchell.
Shortly after government decision, a CIA plane left Cairo bound for Stockholm’s Bromma airport.
Agiza and Alzery were then handed over to US agents and flown back to Cairo in what was one of several extraordinary renditions carried out by the United States in the early years of the war on terror.
Both men later claimed they were tortured while being held in Egypt, leading many international human rights bodies to criticize Sweden for its role in the forced deportations.
Both men eventually had their deportations overturned and went on to receive damage awards from the Swedish state in 2008.
In the Riksdag’s constitutional committee, Bodström said it was only then that he learned the CIA was involved.
Late on Sunday night, Persson issued a few statements in reaction to press reports about Franchell’s book.
He wrote that, “the government was jointly responsible for the decision to deport the suspected Egyptian terrorists. It was not an easy decision to make. The case was difficult and demanded a great deal of preparation. The member of the government who was responsible for those preparations was Anna Lindh.”
Persson said he had “another memory” of the matter than what has been described in the press about Franchell’s book.
Bodström is out of the country and didn’t want to comment on the book until he had read it, according to his press secretary.