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Suspect Arrested in Sweden for Auschwitz Sign Theft

Swedish authorities have arrested a man wanted in connection with the theft of the infamous Nazi sign from the former Nazi Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

Prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnstrom said authorities arrested former neo-Nazi party leader Anders Hoegstroem Thursday in Stockholm.

The prosecutor said Swedish investigators are questioning Hoegstroem and a defense lawyer will be appointed for him.

Hoegstroem is suspected of hiring five Polish men to steal the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign from the former Auschwitz Nazi death camp in southern Poland last month. Authorities recovered the sign and arrested the men two days later.

Hoegstroem told a Swedish tabloid newspaper that he acted as a middleman who was supposed to deliver the stolen sign to a buyer. He says he later had a change of heart and contacted Polish police to help them retrieve the sign and arrest the thieves.

Hoegstroem founded the Swedish neo-Nazi National Socialist Front in the 1990s. He later left the party, renounced its ideology and joined a group that helps people to quit neo-Nazi movements. His motive for acting as a middleman in the theft of the Auschwitz sign is not clear.

The five-meter-long metal sign was cut into three pieces after being removed from Auschwitz, which is now a museum complex. Its three German words mean "work will set you free" - a slogan that is one of the most prominent symbols of the Nazi Holocaust.

More than one million people died at Auschwitz during World War II, most of them European Jews, before Soviet troops liberated the camp on January 27, 1945.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP.