When the document was published last month, the Sweden Democrats described Gustafsson, a researcher based in Uppsala, as ‘independent’, stressing that he had been able to carry out his research without interference from the party.
But the Expressen newspaper revealed on Monday that Gustafsson had in fact joined the party he was supposed to be investigating back in 2017.
Confronted with this, Gustafsson told the newspaper that he “would not comment on my political position or background at all in relation to this project”.
“I have chosen not to let my ideological commitments, political standpoints, or current membership, be a part of the discussion,” he said.
In a press release, which has since been taken down from the party’s website, the party said that the report gave “no support for the idea that the party was part of the fascist movement.”
“The report suggests rather that the party and the associations which predated its establishment were in conflict with those extreme movements that then existed and that didn’t at all want to see a new movement to develop on democratic grounds,” it read.
Martin Kinnunen, the Sweden Democrat MP who was responsible for the project, in July said that the project had been “the most transparent ever launched in Swedish politics”.
On Monday, he said he had been unaware of Gustafsson’s past party membership. “We don’t go and dig around in our register, and don’t keep information on who has formerly been a member of the party, but instead have to delete it because of [the EU’s] GDPR rules.”
He reiterated that Gustafsson was politically independent.