Another Swede held in Pakistan: report
Published: 12 Oct 2009 12:02 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Oct 2009 12:02 GMT+02:00
Sweden’s foreign ministry confirmed on Monday that one an additional Swedish citizen is currently being held in prison in Pakistan.
- Pakistan Swedes arrive home (11 Oct 09)
- Terror suspect Swedes freed from Pakistan (10 Oct 09)
- Pakistan to free Swede held in terror probe (07 Oct 09)
According to foreign ministry spokesperson Barbro Elm, the detainee is a 35-year-old man from central Sweden who was arrested in early August for entering the country illegally.
Since then he has been convicted and is currently waiting to be deported back to Sweden.
Citing “sources in Pakistan”, Sweden’s TV4 reported earlier on Monday that several people were arrested in Waziristan in northwestern Pakistan, including a Swedish citizen and two others with ties to Sweden. The people were arrested in the district of Dera Ghazi Khan on their way to southern Waziristan, where Al-Qaeda reportedly operates a training camp.
Swedish security service Säpo refused to comment on the matter.
“A Swede imprisoned abroad is a consular matter for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said Säpo spokesperson Patrik Peter.
According to Dagens Nyheter (DN), a correspondent for Pakistani television network GEO News, Naveed Siddiqui, revealed in late August that the Pakistani police had shifted their focus from the three Swedes who were arrested at the end of August to another 28-year-old Swede who came to Waziristan from Afghanistan without a visa.
The three Swedes originally targeted in the probe returned to Sweden at the weekend, along with the two-year-old son of one of the suspects.
The 35-year-old Swede was reportedly arrested in Loralai in the state of Beluchistan in western Pakistan and then taken to the provincial capital of Quetta, where he now sits awaiting transport to Islamabad for eventual deportation to Sweden.
During his time in prison, the man has not had any visits from Swedish diplomatic or consular personnel.
“The French honorary consul in the area has visited him,” Elm told the TT news agency.
In addition to time in prison, which the man had served by the time the court ruling was announced, the 35-year-old’s sentence also included fines and a deportation order.
Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at the Swedish National Defence Colleage (Försvarshögskolan) pointed out that the German interior ministry estimates that between 50 and 100 Islamists who reside in Germany have traveled to the lawless regions around the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Western intelligence organizations believe that many of them traveled there without having any set plans for what they were going to do. In German, British, and Danish terror investigations, there are also examples of operations being planned and controlled from abroad by people with contacts in the area.
“Maybe they are being trained down there, but they can also be successively manipulated and sent back,” Ranstorp told TT.
“But so far we haven’t seen a Swedish case of this,” he added.
Nor has Ranstorp seen or heard any estimates of how many Swedes there are in the area.