Stefan Löfven pictured speaking to press on Monday. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has called the suspected murder of a journalist at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul "horrible", but did not immediately support calls to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
"It seems that very probably something awful, something horrible has happened here," Löfven said of the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
However, he declined to comment further until more facts about the incident came to light.
Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2nd. Saudi authorities admitted this on Saturday, following a fortnight of denying first the death and then any involvement.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country would not export arms to Saudi Arabia "in the current situation", and the German Economy Minister has called for a joint European stance on Saudi arms exports.
However, Löfven instead pointed to Sweden's recently adopted arms legislation, which he said was introduced "to make it harder for countries that don't stand for democracy and human rights".
He also said it was the job of the ISP (National Inspectorate of Strategic Products) to make decisions on arms deals in Sweden. "We have different rules for weapons exports within the EU and Sweden's government can't disregard Swedish law," Löfven explained.
Not all Swedish politicians agreed however, with Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt calling for a political response in parliament.
"Political reactions are now required. We need leadership, which I think the German government has shown, and I would have liked the prime minister to give a correspondingly clear signal," Sjöstedt said.
Swedish military exports rose by 2 percent last year, totaling 11.3 billion kronor, of which exports to Saudi Arabia alone accounted for 7 million kronor.