Ikea admits political prisoners made its furniture, apologises
Ikea admitted Friday that political prisoners in communist East Germany were forced to make some of the Swedish home-furnishings giant's products in the 1980s and apologised.
It released in Berlin a report by independent auditors Ernst and Young into allegations by the former prisoners that they had to make furniture and accessories in prison workshops. They were threatened with solitary confinement and other punishment if they refused.
Some Ikea executives were aware at the time, 25 to 30 years ago, that East German suppliers were using jailed dissidents as labour along with regular criminals.
"We very much apologize that this could have happened," said Jeanette Skjelmose, a spokeswoman for Ikea which runs self-service megastores round the globe selling stylish but cheap furniture of its own design.
Ikea ordered the study after ex-prisoners aired the allegations last year on German television. The repressive East German communist government collapsed at the end of 1989 and within weeks, the political prisoners were freed.