March 29, 2016 / 2:43 PM / a year ago

Sweden ready to declare war hero Wallenberg dead 70 years after disappearance

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Visitors watch a photo exhibition dedicated to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during the opening day in Stockholm, December 20, 2011.SCANPIX/Jessica Gow

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Swedish Tax Authority said it is ready to declare Raoul Wallenberg dead, more than 70 years after the diplomat, who helped rescue thousands of Hungarian Jews at the end of the Second World War, was captured by Soviet forces in Budapest.

The fate of Wallenberg, who would be 104 years old this year, has been shrouded in mystery since he was captured in 1945. He had helped save thousands of Jews from the Nazis by issuing them provisional Swedish passports so they could flee to Sweden.

A Russian report claimed he died in the infamous Lubyanka prison in 1947, but no definitive proof has been put forward.

Wallenberg, from one of Sweden's most powerful business family dynasties, has been made an honorary citizen of the United States, Canada, Hungary, Austria and Israel, and he was awarded the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal in 2012.

SEB bank, executor of his estate, asked the tax authority to declare him dead. The authority said in an announcement in daily Svenska Dagbladet that it will take a decision on the matter after a period of six months.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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