Swedish PM reshuffles government after data scandal
July 27 2017 11:30 AM
Sweden
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has declined to call early election.

Agencies/Stockholm

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on Thursday reshuffled his minority left-green government in response to a scandal over the outsourcing of IT services, shunning the more drastic option of calling an early election.
Faced with a political crisis over the botched outsourcing deal, in which sensitive data was potentially leaked abroad, Lofven opted to replace two government ministers rather than hold a snap vote more than a year ahead of schedule.
"I have to take responsibility for the country. It wouldn't serve Sweden to throw the country into a political crisis," Lofven told a news conference, citing the many challenges Sweden and the European Union were facing, including Brexit.
He said two ministers involved in the row -- Interior Minister Anders Ygeman and Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson -- had resigned. Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist remains in his post, he said.
Opposition parties had called for a no-confidence vote in all three ministers.
The scandal has blown up in recent weeks after it emerged that an entire database on Swedish drivers' licences was made available to technicians in the Czech Republic and Romania, with media reporting that the identities of intelligence agents may have been jeopardised.
The Swedish military also said information on its personnel, vehicles and defence and contingency planning could have been included in the leak, although the transport agency denied having a register on military vehicles and said there was no indication the data had been "spread in an improper way". 
The leak stems from the transport agency's hiring of IBM in 2015 to take over its IT operations.
IBM in turn used subcontractors in the Czech Republic and Romania -- making the sensitive information accessible by foreign technicians who did not have security clearance.
Opposition parties on Wednesday signalled they were planning a censure motion to force the ministers out, and they together hold enough votes to do so.
They are not seeking the resignation of Lofven, who has headed a fragile Social Democrat-led coalition since 2014, but political pundits have not ruled out his departure over one of the largest breaches of government information in Sweden in decades.
The transport agency's director general Maria Agren resigned in January for undisclosed reasons, but she has since confessed to violating data handling and accepted a fine of 70,000 Swedish kronor ($8,000).
Hultqvist and Ygeman reportedly found out about the leak last year, but the prime minister was only informed in January.
Johansson, who oversees the transport agency, said her former state secretary had known about the leak but kept the information hidden from her -- triggering heavy criticism among opposition parties who said she should have known what was happening.

Last updated: July 27 2017 12:31 PM


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