Sweden shuts Nord Stream probe over lack of jurisdiction

AFP , Wednesday 7 Feb 2024

A Swedish prosecutor probing the 2022 sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines linking Russia and Germany said Wednesday he was closing the investigation because Sweden does not have jurisdiction.

Nord Stream
File photo: A handout picture released by ImageSat International (ISI) shows an image from an intelligence report depicting a release of gas emanating from a leak on the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, in the Swedish economic zone in the Baltic Sea. AFP


Mats Ljungqvist said there had been "in-depth cooperation" with Germany over the September 2022 seabed operation and he would "hand over material that can be used as evidence in the German investigation."

Four large gas leaks were discovered on Nord Stream's two pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm, with seismic institutes recording two underwater explosions just before.

The pipelines had been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation for Western sanctions over Moscow's war on Ukraine.

State suspect

While the leaks were in international waters, two were in Denmark's exclusive economic zone and two in Sweden's.

The pipelines were not in operation when the leaks occurred, but they still contained gas which spewed up through the water and into the atmosphere.

Denmark, Sweden and Germany all opened investigations into the explosions.

All three countries have kept a tight lid on their investigations, which analysts have said was because of the potential diplomatic fallout of what they might uncover.

Different theories have emerged pointing the finger at Ukraine, Russia or the United States. All have denied involvement.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement the primary purpose of its probe had been to establish whether Swedish citizens were involved and whether Swedish territory had been used to carry out the act.

"Nothing has emerged to indicate that Sweden or Swedish citizens were involved in the attack which took place in international waters," the authority said.

The Swedish intelligence agency Sapo said in a statement that the sabotage was not targeted at Sweden and did not pose a threat to national security.

Ljungqvist had previously said the "primary assumption is that a state is behind it".

He said Wednesday a large number of ship movements had been analysed and that an extensive crime scene investigation had been carried out.

"Against the background of the situation we now have, we can state that Swedish jurisdiction does not apply," he said.

"The German investigation continues and due to the secrecy that prevails in international legal cooperation, I cannot comment further on the cooperation that has taken place," Ljungqvist said.

'Remarkable decision'

After the Swedish announcement, the German federal prosecutor's office said its "investigation is continuing," adding that "no further information will be released for the time being".

Danish police said their investigation was still not completed, but they hoped to make an announcement "shortly," according to the Ritzau news agency.

Russian energy giant Gazprom holds a majority stake in the twin pipelines, with the rest owned by German, Dutch and French companies.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the closing of the Swedish probe "a remarkable decision."

"It will be interesting to see how scrupulously the German authorities approach this investigation. A lot of information has been published about who might be behind this," Peskov told reporters.

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