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Nobel literature body grants members leave after sex scandal

News Desk

Agence France-Presse

Stockholm, Sweden | Tue, May 8, 2018 | 04:03 am
Nobel literature body grants members leave after sex scandal

In this file photo taken on October 13, 2016, a woman takes pictures of the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, Sweden, where the laureate of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature was announced. The Swedish Academy said on May 4, 2018 it would postpone this year's Nobel Literature Prize for the first time in almost 70 years, as it is rocked by turmoil over links to a man accused of rape and sexual assault. (AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)

The Swedish Academy which awards the Nobel Literature Prize Monday said four members -- who are traditionally appointed for life -- were granted leave after a sexual assault scandal scuppered this year's award. 

The body has been in turmoil since November when Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter -- in the wake of the global #MeToo campaign -- published the testimonies of 18 women who claimed to have been raped, sexually assaulted or harassed by an influential figure with long-standing ties to the Academy.

Disagreements within the prestigious institution on how to deal with the issue sowed deep discord among its 18 members and prompted six to quit, including the first woman permanent secretary Sara Danius. 

"Lotta Lotass, Klas Ostergren and Sara Stridsberg have asked for and with immediate effect been granted leave from the Swedish Academy," it said in a statement.  

Read also: No Nobel Literature Prize after #MeToo turmoil

The fourth member, Kerstin Ekman, who had been inactive since 1989 over the Academy's refusal to condemn a fatwa against British author Salman Rushdie, was also granted leave. The Academy finally did condemn the fatwa 27 years later.

Lotass has also been inactive since 2015.  

Technically, Academy members are appointed for life but they can leave their seats empty if they so wish. 

However, the scandal has led its patron, Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf, to change the statues and make it possible for members to resign and be replaced. 

The Academy is currently down to 10 active members while its statutes stipulate that 12 are needed to elect new members.

It said it would announce two prizes in 2019. 

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