Sanya Popovic

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Person.png Sanya Popovic TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Sanya Popovic 2.jpeg
Current Twitter profile picture
Alma materSyracuse University, Columbia University
SpouseGeorge Bogdanich

Sanya Popovic is a former Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, having graduated from Syracuse University and gained a PhD from Columbia University. She was the fiancée of Bernt Carlsson, the highest profile victim of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December 1988.

Sanya Popovic married filmmaker George Bogdanich in 1995 and was the narrator in his 2002 film “Yugoslavia: The Avoidable War”.[1]

Interviewed by Jan-Olof Bengtsson

Sanya Popovic was interviewed in March 1990 by Jan-Olof Bengtsson, who wrote a series of newspaper articles (in Swedish) about Bernt Carlsson's secret meeting in London with De Beers on the very day of the Lockerbie bombing.

Who broke into Bernt Carlsson's apartment?

In his iDAG newspaper article of 13 March 1990, Jan-Olof Bengtsson reported:

"Kassaskåpet var tomt - The safe was empty"

When Bernt Carlsson's safe was opened six days after the Pan Am explosion, those present had a minor shock: the safe was empty! Despite the fact that the office had been sealed already on 21 December 1988, and his private apartment the day after, by the UN's own security staff. The opening was witnessed by, among others, Bernt Carlsson's girl friend Sanya Popovic, his sister Inger Carlsson-Musser and Embassy Counsellor Stefan Noréen of the Swedish Delegation at the UN. In the days immediately before Bernt Carlsson made the trip to his secret meeting in London, which we wrote about yesterday, he was very uneasy.

According to Sanya Popovic:

"December was like clouded in a nightmare. He became increasingly nervous. He said that if I received a parcel I was not to open it under any circumstances. This was on 17 December. He said that people usually start getting parcels at this time, it being Christmas. But unless I knew who sent it, I was not to open it."

On 22 December - the day after the Pan Am bombing - Bernt Carlsson's apartment was sealed off:

"The lock was changed," says Sanya Popovic. "I was given one key, and the UN security department had another. I was told that sealing off everything could take a long time pending the analysis. I therefore ensured that all windows were properly locked, all lights switched off, etc. A few days later, however, a friend and I passed by the apartment in a taxi. The apartment is easy to recognise from the outside: front view, third floor and five windows. My friend pointed out that the lights were on. So I got out and walked back. I found that some lights were switched on but there was no-one there."
Sanya Popovic continues: "If there was anything of interest in the apartment, someone else got to it first."

Office safe was empty

On the evening of the disaster, the Swedish foreign minister, Sten Andersson, telephoned Bernt Carlsson's sister Inger Carlsson-Musser, who had lived in the US for almost 20 years, to give his commiserations. On 28 December 1988 Inger Carlsson-Musser travelled to New York to go through Bernt Carlsson's belongings in his UN office. This was the office which had been sealed off since the day of the accident. She asked Sanya Popovic and the Embassy Counsellor Stefan Noréen to help. We understand that his safe was empty. What can you say about that?

"Yes, it was empty," says Sanya Popovic. "And this was very unlike Bernt who was very security-conscious and kept all his documents under lock and key. But above all the office was sealed off. No-one should have been able to get in."[2]

Murder of Olof Palme

In his 2015 book "Coup d'Etat in Slow Motion: The Murder of Olof Palme", author Ole Dammegård wrote:

"Swedish national, Bertil Wedin, who was recruited by South African superspy Craig Williamson, said:

'I have the names of businessmen who know a lot about this – many things the investigators would need to know. A lot of information has been silenced.'

"According to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet of 30 April 1991, Bernt Carlsson’s American girlfriend, Sanya Popovic, was told by him shortly before the Lockerbie catastrophe:

'I am one of the four or five people who know what really happened to Olof Palme'.

Targeting Bernt Carlsson

“A diplomat (probably, Bernt Carlsson) knew about this, and told his friends in New York that he was afraid for his life. Some days later, he was one of the victims in the Lockerbie outrage of December 21, 1988, when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown to pieces over a small village in Scotland. In all, 270 people were killed. Bernt Carlsson was Palme’s closest co-worker in the mediating assignment between Iran and Iraq, and no doubt had insight into all aspects.
"At the time of his death, Bernt Carlsson – who was a sworn adversary of Apartheid – had just been appointed UN Commissioner for Namibia, and was seen as a serious threat by the white regime of South Africa.
"Because Bernt Carlsson knew too much, he had to be removed.
"Investigations by the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung, proved that in fact South African agents had placed a specially-prepared bomb in Bernt Carlsson’s small tape recorder.
"By blowing up a whole passenger plane in the air, the motive was hidden very effectively, because the investigators had no possibility of knowing which one of the passengers was the target."[3]

Message of Spring

On 5 April 1999, over a year ahead of the start of the Lockerbie Trial, the two accused Libyans Megrahi and Fhimah arrived in the Netherlands and were remanded in custody by Scottish police officers. At about the same time, Sanya Popovic, who lost her late fiancé Bernt Carlsson on Pan Am Flight 103 of 21 December 1988, wrote:

"In the eleven and a half years that have passed since the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, I have learned so very much about love and grief and life. I recall how excruciatingly painful the first spring was after the bombing — and indeed so many springs thereafter. How possibly could life be springing anew everywhere, when the man I loved was dead, and it seemed as though my soul, too, was dying within.
"Somewhere along the way, though, I began to see that the message of spring was a powerful and universal one, found in so many religions and different cultures. It was hardly a surprise that within the Christian faith, the death and resurrection of Christ was said to happen in the spring ... I began to find first, solace and later, hope, in the fact that the way of the world is that life, no matter what, begins again. And as long as there is life, and renewal, there is hope.
"So this year, my eleventh spring post-Pan Am 103, I do feel that my late fiancé is with me, in my heart, looking at the joy and beauty of spring."[4]

Cover-up covered up

On the 'Acknowledgments' page of the 2001 book "Cover-Up of Convenience", authors John Ashton and Ian Ferguson paid particular thanks to the Lockerbie relatives - chief amongst them Sanya Popovic - for their assistance with the book. However, Bernt Carlsson's name is nowhere to be found in the book's 14-page 'Index', which some book reviewers have described as a very strange omission.

Sanya Popovich and Ian Ferguson follow each other on Twitter.[5]

Sanya's diplomatic gaffe

On 24 December 2000, towards the end of the Lockerbie trial, Safia Aoude posted the following item on her Pan Am 103/Lockerbie website:

Former British diplomat accuses South Africa of Lockerbie bombing
The former British diplomat Patrick Haseldine was sacked by HM Government in 1988 accused of abusing his freedom of speech. Since then he has tried to convince the world that South Africa was behind the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. He has recently posted a number of messages on the Lockerbie Trial Discussion Board. He has also tried to post a number of documents and letters in the British press, allegedly containing circumstantial evidence of South Africa´s involvement into the Lockerbie bombing. Since 1993 no media has printed any of his documents.
But now readers/viewers of this website can have a look of their own into the accusations of Mr Haseldine, starting with a concise introduction of what he thinks went wrong on Pan Am 103 - and why:[6]
Meanwhile, relatives of the victims on Pan Am 103 are enraged over Haseldine´s claims. Sanya Popovic from the American victims´ organisation Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc said:
Haseldine's Diplomatic Commission
"Not only is Haseldine quite out to lunch on this issue, but his (anniversary related) surfacings have caused real pain to me, my family, Bernt's sister and the rest of Bernt Carlsson's extended family.
"The Haseldine file, if it is what he has sent me previously, is a rehash of secondary sources, which he has culled from the Internet. He has no personal knowledge whatsoever about this very tragic matter. Haseldine was not ever even a diplomat, insofar as information officer does not quite bequeath the same aura of legitimacy as true 'diplomat' does, which he claims to be, but never was," said Ms Popovic.[7]

As evidence that he had in fact been a member of HM Diplomatic Service, and demonstrating that Sanya Popovic had made a diplomatic gaffe, Patrick Haseldine produced a copy of The Queen's Commission dated 5 August 1983 (pictured).

Social media

Former Facebook profile picture
Former Twitter profile picture

Until 2010, Sanya Popovic used to have an account with Facebook where she was friends, inter alia, with Vincent Cannistraro, Patrick Haseldine and Jim Swire.[8]

Until May 2013, Sanya Popovic maintained an open Twitter account (@sanjapopovic) with followers including Safia Aoude, Ian Ferguson and Patrick Haseldine. Now her Tweets are protected and only confirmed followers have access to @sanjapopovic's Tweets and complete profile.

Prospective followers are advised to "Click the 'Follow' button to send a follow request."[9]


On 12 August 1995, Sanya Popovic, a daughter of Dr Tatyana Popovic and Professor Nenad Popovic of New York, was married to George Vladimir Bogdanich, a son of Helen Bogdanich of Naples, Florida, and the late Walter Bogdanich. The Rev. Rudy Aguilla, a nondenominational minister, officiated at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The New York Times reported:

"Ms Popovic is keeping her name. She is a professor of political science at Barnard College in New York. She graduated summa cum laude from Syracuse University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She also received a master's degree in political science from Columbia University, where she is a candidate for a PhD in that subject. Her father is professor emeritus of international political economy at Syracuse. He was the minister plenipotentiary in the Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1956 to 1961. Her mother is the author of 'Prince Marko: Hero of the South Slavs'."[10]