Swedish prosecutors on Wednesday charged a 42-year-old man with sending death threats and an unidentified white powder to 21 cabinet ministers, including the prime minister.
In August last year, the suspect sent an envelope containing the white powder and a letter saying “you will soon be dead” to each minister’s home address, including Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin and Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist, prosecutors said in a charge sheet.
“These crimes are aggravated because the threats were exacerbated by the powder in each letter which appeared to be poisonous or explosive,” prosecutor Eva Wintzell said in a statement.
Analysis of the powder concluded it was harmless. The man, who has been held in police custody since May, denies the charges.
“These threats against elected officials are particularly serious as they pose a threat to democracy,” Wintzell said, adding the suspect risks “several years” in prison if found guilty.
Sweden is one of the world’s most transparent nations, where income tax information, home addresses and telephone numbers can easily be accessed online.
Elected officials can often be seen out in public running errands and going about their daily lives, sometimes without security.
Sweden’s former foreign minister Anna Lindh died in 2003 after she was stabbed in broad daylight at a Stockholm department store without a bodyguard present.
And former prime minister Olof Palme was shot dead while walking home from a Stockholm cinema in 1986, also without a bodyguard. His murder remains a mystery to this day.
Prosecutors said the suspect, who was caught possessing narcotics, is also charged with the attempted murder of four people in Britain after he sent a letter bomb to a bitcoin selling company called Cryptopay in London last year.
His computer showed he had searched for information on how to build explosives and had created an account on Cryptopay’s website.