A Swedish court on Friday jailed a 43-year-old man for seven years for sending death threats and an unidentified white powder to 21 cabinet ministers, including the prime minister. The man, identified in court documents as Michael Salonen, was also found guilty of attempted murder for sending a letter bomb to a bitcoin selling company called Cryptopay in London last year. The bomb did not explode and no one was injured.
In August 2017, Salonen sent an envelope containing 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, court documents showed. He also sent similar letters to several other public figures in Sweden. Analysis of the powder concluded it was harmless.
While the court determined that Salonen had sent the letters, it found him not guilty on several counts of unlawful threats. In those cases, including that for Prime Minister Lofven, the addressees did not open the letters themselves and therefore did not experience the intended threat, the court ruled. Salonen, who has been held in police custody since May, had denied any involvement in the crimes.
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.