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International relations

Sweden's ex-envoy to China found not guilty in bookseller case

Anna Lindstedt stood accused of exceeding mandate to seek release of detained man

Sweden's former ambassador to China, Anna Lindstedt, right, arrives on June 5 at the district court in Stockholm. She stood accused of overstepping her mandate for alleged contacts aimed at the release of a publisher detained in China.   © AP

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -- A Swedish court on Friday found a former ambassador to China not guilty of exceeding her authority in dealings with a foreign power in connection with a meeting aimed at helping free bookseller Gui Minhai.

The envoy, Anna Lindstedt, was replaced in the post after she took part in the meeting in Stockholm in January 2019. The Swedish foreign ministry said it had not authorized the meeting and that she acted against Swedish policy by taking part.

The Stockholm district court said in its verdict: "Overall, it is established that the objective requisites for the crime of arbitrariness at negotiations with foreign powers are in no part fulfilled."

Gui, a Hong Kong-based Swedish citizen who has published books critical of Chinese Communist leaders, was sentenced in February in China to 10 years in prison after being convicted of illegally providing intelligence to foreigners.

Gui had been abducted in Thailand in 2015 and later appeared in custody in mainland China. The bookseller's case has soured relations between Sweden and China, also under strain over security concerns.

The case against Lindstedt was the first of its kind in Sweden. A conviction could have meant a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

Gui's daughter Angela has said she was invited by the ambassador to meet two unidentified businessmen who could help secure her father's release, and that she was advised during the meeting to keep quiet about her father's case. 

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