Sweden’s former ambassador to China has been charged after holding unauthorised meetings in Stockholm aimed at freeing dissident bookseller Gui Minhai.
Anna Lindstedt is suspected of organising a meeting in January between Gui’s daughter, two businessmen and China's ambassador about the possible release of her father.
Hans Ihrman, Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor at the National Security Unit said Lindstedt “exceeded her mandate and has therefore rendered herself criminally liable”.
The charge against Lindstedt “during negotiations with a foreign power is unprecedented in modern times”.
The former ambassador allegedly told Angela Gui that she should fly to Stockholm to explore a “new approach” to her father’s case. It is alleged that the businessmen in attendance could arrange a Chinese visa for her and connect her with China’s ruling Communist Party.
Angela Gui later said in her blog that she was advised to keep quiet about her father's case while negotiations were proceeding.
Anna Lindstedt was replaced as ambassador in February amid a furore over her alleged role in setting up the meetings. Sweden's Foreign Ministry said it had no advance knowledge of the meeting.
In a written statement to Swedish news agency TT, Lindstedt's lawyer said that she rejected the accusation.
“Ambassadors must adhere to certain guidelines and instructions” issued by the Swedish Government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Ihrman.
An investigation into the ambassador was launched in February after the Swedish Security Service filed a criminal complaint.
Who is Gui Minhai?
Swedish citizen Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong-based publisher of books critical of China's communist leaders, went missing in Thailand in 2015.
He was released in October 2017, but his whereabouts were unclear until January last year when his daughter said he was seized by Chinese agents on a Beijing-bound train in the presence of Swedish diplomats.
China later confirmed it had detained him again, on suspicion of revealing state secrets and intelligence on China.
Stockholm has accused China of preventing Sweden giving consular support to Gui, which Beijing rejects, and relations between the two countries have turned frosty.
In November, China's ambassador to Sweden threatened to blacklist Swedish Minister of Culture Amanda Lind for attending a literary award ceremony in Stockholm where Gui was honoured.