Swedish military and foreign-affairs officials have said they know nothing about a man who appeared on Fox News in the US billed as a “Swedish defence and national security advisor”.
Swedes, and some Americans, have been wondering about representations of the Scandinavian nation in the US since President Donald Trump invoked “what’s happening last night in Sweden” while alluding to past terror attacks in Europe during a rally on 18 February. There was no major incident in Sweden the previous night.
Trump does seem to get much of his security intelligence and other information from television and ‘other sources’ and not White House intelligence community, according to Trump’s many tweets.
Following Trump’s comments, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly convened an on-air discussion on Thursday over Swedish immigration and crime between a Swedish newspaper reporter and a man identified on screen and verbally as a “Swedish defence and national security advisor”, Nils Bildt.
Bildt linked immigration to crime and social problems in Sweden, lamented what he described as Swedish liberal close-mindedness about the downsides of welcoming newcomers and said: “We are unable in Sweden to socially integrate these people.”
But the Swedish defense ministry and foreign office told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter they knew nothing of Bildt. Calls to Swedish officials on Saturday were not immediately returned.
Bildt is a founding member of a corporate geopolitical strategy and security consulting business with offices in Washington, Brussels and Tokyo, according its website. His biography speaks to expertise on defence and national security issues, saying his experience includes serving as a naval officer, working for a Japanese official and writing books on issues ranging from investment and political climates to security issues with working in hostile environments.
But security experts in Sweden said he was not a familiar figure in their ranks in that country.
“He is in not in any way a known quantity in Sweden and has never been part of the Swedish debate,” Swedish Defence University leadership professor Robert Egnell said by email to The Associated Press on Saturday. He and Bildt — also known then as Nils Tolling — were in a master’s degree program in war studies together at King’s College London in 2002-2003, and Bildt moved to Japan soon after, he said.
The network said O’Reilly was expected to address the subject further on Monday’s show.
Trump started this fake news when Trump appeared at a Florida rally last week.
“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden! Who would believe this? Sweden!” he said.
Well, the fact is nobody should have believed it. You can bet any time Trump uses the words ‘believe me’ Trump is probably lying as this article explains.
Swedes – and many other nationalities – were bewildered by the outburst: nothing major had taken place in Sweden that night. Staff at Sweden’s US embassy were so flummoxed that they sent a note to the White House asking for an explanation. They later got one from the president himself, on Twitter, in which he referred to a report on Fox News from the night before.
The film claimed that there had been a surge in gun violence and rape following a record number of asylum applications in 2015. Police interviewed for the report appeared to confirm that there had been a huge rise.
But those officers later said their words had been taken out of context and that they were not talking about refugees and migration. The Swedish cameraman who filmed them said the same. The film-maker, Ami Horowitz, defended the segment.
The data tells us that there was no surge in gun violence or rape in 2015, when Sweden accepted more than 160,000 refugees. The rate of gun deaths in Sweden in 2015 stood at 0.32 per 100,000 population, compared with 4.04 in the US – 12 times that of Sweden.