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Outrage over claims Sweden helped Saudis build weapons factory

Outrage over claims Sweden helped Saudis build weapons factory
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Swedish officials are trying to quell a public outcry after reports that state authorities have been secretly helping Saudi Arabia to build an advanced weapons factory.

Swedish radio claims that defence agency FOI, which comes under the Defence Ministry, created a new company to help Riyadh construct a plant that would make anti-tank missiles.

“We created the company to be able to get round the problem that our agency wasn’t allowed to do large parts of what our counterparts (the Saudi’s) thought the government had promised in their agreement,” said Dick Strang, former head of research at FOI.

He says the company was set up in his name.

An arms deal with Saudi Arabia was struck in 2005 under the then centre-left government. It was renewed five years later by Sweden’s ruling centre-right party.

One Swedish based activist campaigning for greater freedom in the staunchly conservative Middle East state told Swedish radio that authorities are “letting down democratic and liberal forces in Saudi Arabia that have been fighting for better human rights for years”.

Two ministers have published a joint article in a Swedish newspaper refuting claims that a factory is under construction and that the agency FOI was involved.