2 ministers leave Swedish Cabinet in wake of security breach

2 ministers leave Swedish Cabinet in wake of security breach

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HELSINKI (AP) — In a bid to avert a government crisis, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on Thursday reshuffled his minority Cabinet, replacing two members, after opposition parties demanded the ouster of three government ministers over one of the largest security breaches in the country's history.

Lofven said the heads of the interior and infrastructure ministries had requested to leave but that Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist would remain in the Cabinet because a no-confidence proposal against him was unfounded.

Addressing a news conference, Lofven described the opposition motion to file a no-confidence vote against the three government ministers as "hasty and ill-planned," and said it was irresponsible, as Hultqvist "didn't have responsibility for the authority where the shortcomings occurred".

But he added that he didn't want a political crisis in Sweden.

"I don't want political chaos," he said. "I want to take responsibility so that the country doesn't end up in a political crisis."

Lofven said now it was up to lawmakers to decide Hultqvist's fate.

Four right-wing opposition parties announced they plan to file a motion of no-confidence on Wednesday, but it was unclear if Hultqvist would face such a motion. In any case, it seems that the earliest lawmakers could vote is when Parliament reconvenes in the autumn.

The crisis came to a head when the populist, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats said they would back the opposition in a no-confidence vote, which would have given them the required majority to oust the three ministers.

The 2015 breach allowed IT workers abroad to access confidential information in Sweden's government and police database when the Transport Agency outsourced some of its services to IBM in the Czech Republic.

Officials say they do not know if the breach caused any tangible damage. The head of the Transport Agency was fired in January for alleged negligence and waiving security clearance requirements for some foreign IT workers, Swedish reports said.

The three government ministers are blamed for incompetence and delaying the release of information. Lofven, who described the incident as a disaster that put Sweden and Swedes in harm's way, said he first heard about it in January, some 18 months after the leak occurred.

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