April 12, 2017 / 1:10 PM / 4 months ago

Sweden to fast-track tighter law on joining militant groups

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's centre-left government wants to fast-track plans to make it a criminal offence to be a member of what it deems a terrorist organisation, Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said, bringing Sweden into line with neighbour Norway.

The deadly truck attack in central Stockholm that left four dead and injured another 15 has led to widespread calls for tighter laws, more resources for police and a speedier framework for deporting people who have been denied asylum.

"Freedom of association was never intended to mean that you could be active in terrorist organisations," Johansson told a news conference.

"In the circumstance, this will be fast-tracked."

Similar measures have been discussed previously in Sweden, but were abandoned because they could clash with civil liberties enshrined in Sweden's constitution.

The government has appointed a high court judge to investigate legal framework for a new law, which could be introduced by autumn next year.

Police have said that Rakhmat Akilov, who is suspected mowing down shoppers on a busy Stockholm street in a hijacked truck, had expressed sympathies with extremist organisations.

Security services had not viewed him as a militant threat.

Sweden already has a law making it illegal to travel abroad for terrorist purposes.

Norway introduced a law making it illegal to be a member of a terrorist organisation in 2013.

Reporting by Simon Johnson

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