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Swedish reporter detained in Syria

Published: 16 Feb 2012 07:04 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Feb 2012 07:04 GMT+01:00

A Swedish journalist was arrested in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Wednesday afternoon but was released following an interrogation.

“I am OK but a bit shaken after what has happened,” said the man to daily Expressen late on Wednesday night.

Reports had started to hit Sweden about the man’s arrest earlier on Wednesday evening.

The Swedish foreign office could not confirm the arrest during the night, but spokesperson Anders Jörle said that they had queried the Syrian foreign ministry about the incident.

However, Expressen managed to get in contact with the man at his hotel later in the evening.

While covering a demonstration in the district of Barzah around 5.30pm CET, the man had become aware of two men in civilian clothing observing him, he told the paper.

Shortly after he was arrested.

“I didn’t resist at all, I took it easy,” the Swede told the paper.

After being taken to a detention centre in the capital he was interrogated for an hour by Syrian police.

Despite never being handcuffed or treated roughly, the man described the atmosphere as “threatening”.

The reporter believes that the fact that he was in the country on a legitimate journalist visa and was carrying the card of someone in the Syrian information ministry played a major role in his release after some two and a half hours.

The reporter told Expressen that he was all right under the circumstances and that he has no intention of leaving the country early but that he was worried about his sources as the Syrian police had gone through his phonebook.

However, he doesn’t feel as if he is under any particular threat at present.

“Not right now, but the experience was very unpleasant,” he said to the paper.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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