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President Niinistö officially recalls Finnish Ambassador from Sweden

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has permanently recalled Finnish Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen from his post as the country’s representative in Sweden. Viinanen is suspected of sexual harassment of staff and guests at the Stockholm embassy. A new ambassador is expected to be named this week.

Jarmo Viinanen Helsingissä suurlähettiläspäivillä 22. elokuuta 2016.
Jarmo Viinanen Helsingissä suurlähettiläspäivillä 22. elokuuta 2016. Image: Petteri Paalasmaa / AOP

Finnish Ambassador to Sweden Jarmo Viinanen has been recalled to Finland following a scandal over alleged sexual harassment of personnel and guests at the Stockholm embassy. President Sauli Niinistö confirmed the decision Thursday afternoon, based on a recommendation by the cabinet.

Foreign Minister Timo Soini had proposed that the diplomat should be fast tracked to a desk job at the Foreign Ministry in Finland, because Viinanen’s prospects for continuing in Stockholm had deteriorated.

Earlier this year the Foreign Ministry had conducted an audit of leadership and wellbeing at the embassy in Stockholm. Following the review, the ministry announced that Viinanen would be assigned to other duties. However no details have emerged about the ambassador’s new post.

Claims of possible misconduct at the Finnish embassy in Stockholm came to light in July, when tabloid daily Iltalehti reported that Viinanen was suspected of sexual harassment.

Viinanen has denied all allegations of harassment and inappropriate behavior during his two years at the embassy. He also declined commenting on the President’s decision to strip him of the post.

Previous allegations of misconduct

On Monday Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Peter Stenlund indirectly indicated that there had been allegations of inappropriate behavior at the Stockholm embassy in the past.

He said that no one had had the courage to pass on the information. The parties involved believed that ministry leadership would only support and protect senior employees, he added.

A career diplomat, Viinanen took up the post of Finnish ambassador to Sweden in August 2014. Prior to that he had been Finland’s permanent representative to the United Nations from 2009 to 2014 and a presidential chief of staff and chief cabinet secretary from 2005 to 2009. He began his career in the Foreign Service in 1988.

Viinanen’s permanent recall from Sweden has created an opening at the embassy in Sweden. A new appointee is expected to be named this week.

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