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Military head calls for Afghan staff asylum

Military head calls for Afghan staff asylum

Published: 20 Mar 2013 12:20 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Mar 2013 12:20 GMT+01:00

Sweden's top military commander Sverker Göranson on Wednesday called for local interpreters working with Swedish forces in Afghanistan to be granted asylum in Sweden.

"In an environment like this the interpreter is an absolutely vital part of the operation... If we going to be able to work and recruit in the future, in whichever country, interpreters must feel that we take care of them," he said to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily.

Speaking just days after returning to active duty following a period of stress-related sick leave, Göranson argued that local staff engaged by the military face the prospect of retribution from Taliban.

Some 24 Afghan interpreters working with the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) applied for asylum in Sweden in the summer 2012 but were told that applications must be made individually and in Sweden.

Migration Minister Tobias Billström at the time ruled out that "employees of the Swedish state would be given preferential treatment" and that the cases would be considered according to the standard criteria.

Just prior to his period off sick, Göranson courted controversy after a statement claiming that Sweden could only defend itself for one week if it came under direct attack.

The statement led to a security probe by the Swedish Security Services into whether Göranson's statement constituted a breach of national security.

His assessment has however since been supported by an academic research report from the Royal Academy of War Sciences (Kungliga Krigsvetenskapsakademin) and sparked a debate about defence funding.

The defence forces maintain that a further 4 billion kronor ($620 million) is required to keep the Swedish military ticking along, while the government is seeking to cut the defence budget by 500 million kronor.

The Commander-in-Chief returns from his visit to Afghanistan on Wednesday and is due to meet with defence minister Karin Enström in Skövde in western Sweden.

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson

Follow Peter on Twitter here.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:29 March 20, 2013 by riose
It makes a lot of sense to me.
13:33 March 20, 2013 by liondens
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
14:12 March 20, 2013 by Children Of Adam
It is very good, we should always support those who supported us.

It is very simple logic, you help me, i help you.
15:47 March 20, 2013 by Frobobbles
This tells a lot about in what state Sweden plans to leave Afghanistan in.
17:58 March 20, 2013 by intrepidfox
@liondens

I agree, what the f..k is Sweden doing in Afganistan but these people are now at risk through helping the military. They should get asylum.
18:05 March 20, 2013 by muscle
Wow, a military commander saying this. My level of respect for this country has further increased now.

None of you guys, commenting here have been in any situation that can be classified as a war zone. The interpreters and their close family members, regardless of how many they are, should be taken out of Afghanistan. I doubt that their family members would be a lot as many of the interpreters come from damaged families (no one loves to risk endangering their life when they know soon the third parties will leave the country in future and they will be left to deal with the enemy). You can bring these interpreters and train them for different purposes. Given them job in swedish armed forces. Take them for future peace or war missions. There is always a need for reserve force.
18:24 March 20, 2013 by Trenatos
I agree.

If someone's willing to put themselves at risk to help us, they have proven their intermediate loyalty and willingness, and should get immediate consideration with emphasis from the Armed Forces.

Take them to Sweden and further their knowledge and training, make them even more valuable and anchor their position.
19:13 March 20, 2013 by liondens
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:09 March 20, 2013 by Rishonim
@liondens, ROFLMSAO....Your comment reminds me of the movie The Last Samurai when the newly formed army with weapons and all, was about to confront the Samurais and how quickly they drop their rifles and started running...Yet, we have to agree that the right thing to do is to bring them here and offer them all the assistance necessary.
15:38 March 22, 2013 by muscle
@liondens get your facts corrected please and try following the news of the changed role of swedish armed forces from 2008 and onwards!
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