• Sweden's news in English
 
almadalen_header

Stolen IDs ferry asylum seekers to Sweden

Published: 11 Mar 2014 22:13 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Mar 2014 07:53 GMT+01:00

A relative of the 29-year-old passenger told Swedish media on Tuesday that the man had been on his way to Sweden when he boarded Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370. He was one of two men found to be travelling on stolen passports.

The Swedish Migration Board estimates that seven percent of asylum seekers show them ID documents that are either stolen or forged, of which a slim total of "two to three percent" are passports.

A person travelling to Sweden may use a stolen passport at the border and then switch to actual ID documents once they apply for asylum. That switch means the seven percent says little of the actual number of stolen passports in circulation among asylum seekers making their way to Sweden.

"It is completely impossible to say how many people travel on look-a-like documents," Migration Board spokesman Ola Andersson told The Local. "There are no statistics."

A stolen passports can fetch a hefty profit.

”We have different price estimates, but a fake or stolen passport can cost between $6,000 and $10,000,” said Andersson, who heads a new project at the Migration Board looking at how to identify and archive ID documents. 

Not all wayward passports have been stolen, however. There are other reasons a passport ends up in the hands of a person seeking refuge in Sweden.

"If you have family in Syria, for example, of course you send them your passport to get them out of there," a person with insight into the asylum process in Sweden told The Local on condition of anonymity.

If, however, a Swedish passport has been stolen, its owner can get it onto a digital equivalent of a no-fly list, but for passports not people. The process is simple: Report the stolen passport to police and it will be entered into Interpol's Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database, which to date has around 40 million entries. 

"Once it's been reported, the passport cannot be used, so even if you happen to find (your passport) at home a few hours later it's already too late," Kerstin Högback, passport expert at Sweden's National Bureau of Investigation (Rikskriminalpolisen), told The Local.

As Interpol announced on Tuesday that the two men travelling on stolen passports were Iranian citizens intent on seeking asylum in Europe, the head of the international police body complained that not all airports ran passengers' passport details through its database, which was created in 2002.

“As we work to identify any criminal network which may have facilitated the theft of the passports used by these individuals to travel internationally, it remains of serious concern to Interpol that approximately four out of every 10 international passengers are not being screened against our SLTD database, and this should be a worry for us all,” said Interpol chief Ronald Noble in a news release. 

The statement further noted that "terrorists, murderers and war criminals have previously been identified by Interpol as having travelled internationally using stolen passports". Interpol also said the two men in question likely had no terrorism connections.

While the 29-year-old was on his way to Malmö in Sweden's south, his 19-year-old fellow Iranian was reportedly making his way to Germany. Authorities there report a higher proportion of stolen or counterfeited ID documents among asylum seekers than migration officers in Sweden do.

Nine percent of passports submitted to German migration authorities last year were either faked or had been tampered with, the Office for Migration and Refugees told The Local Germany.

In Sweden, police passport expert Högback noted that certain Swedish citizens' propensity to lose their passports over and over again certainly piqued the authorities' curiosity, but that the police had no power to intervene. 

"There are individuals who lose their passports several times a month, in which case it's likely that they sell them illegally," Högback noted. "Despite these suspicions we cannot prevent them from getting new ones."

"So let's say that the laws are a bit outdated," she added. "However, there are other ways for us to make it more difficult for them to get a new one, but that's something I'd rather not discuss right now." 

Additional reporting by Anders Sjölin, Stockholm, and Tom Bristow, Berlin

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Almedalen 2015
BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Seven
Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt speaking at Almedalen 2015 on Saturday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Seven

It's the seventh day of Almedalen, the most important week in Swedish politics, and the Left Party is running the show. The Local is live blogging the key moments. READ  

Swedes on cusp of snail control breakthrough
Snails are enjoying a bumper year at Swedish gardeners' expense. Photo: By macrophile on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

Swedes on cusp of snail control breakthrough

Since the spring, frequent rain has ensured prime conditions for one of the gardener’s biggest enemies - the snail. Swedish scientists, however, may have found the ultimate deterrent. READ  

Russian bombers seen off Swedish coast
A Russian Tu-22M3 Tu-bomber. Photo: Pavel Golovkin

Russian bombers seen off Swedish coast

Swedish fighter jets were sent on Saturday morning to monitor the activity of two Russian bombers to the east of Gotland. READ  

Almedalen 2015 with the EU Commission in Sweden
'Today's refugees could be tomorrow's Zlatan'
Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

'Today's refugees could be tomorrow's Zlatan'

Sweden is grappling with how to handle a large influx of asylum seekers while some other EU nations brush off responsibility – but it's important to focus on the benefits of immigration as well, high-profile panelists agreed at an Almedalen event. READ  

Almedalen 2015
Opposition head pledges lower taxes on first jobs
Sweden's Moderate party leader Anna Kinberg Batra at Almedalen. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Opposition head pledges lower taxes on first jobs

Moderate Party leader Anna Kinberg Batra spoke about jobs in her first speech at Almedalen since becoming head of Sweden's biggest opposition party. READ  

Almedalen 2015
BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Six
New Moderate Party leader Anna Kinberg Batra speaking at Almedalen. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Six

Anna Kinberg Batra - the new leader of Sweden's biggest opposition party, the Moderates - focused on job creation in her first speech at Almedalen, Sweden's huge week-long politics forum. READ  

Jump in solo children seeking Swedish asylum
A playground at Märsta immigration centre in Sweden. Maja Suslin/TT

Jump in solo children seeking Swedish asylum

A record 1447 unaccompanied children sought asylum in Sweden last month, figures from the Swedish Migration Board have revealed. READ  

Almedalen 2015
Cashless society faces backlash from losers
What are the downsides of a cashless society? Photo: Per Larsson/TT

Cashless society faces backlash from losers

Sweden is possibly the nearest thing the world has to a cashless society, but some Swedes are worried about the effects on rural areas, pensioners - and personal integrity. READ  

Almedalen 2015
Sweden's green leader in second Auschwitz gaffe
Åsa Romson at Sweden's Almedalen Week. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Sweden's green leader in second Auschwitz gaffe

UPDATED: Sweden's Deputy Prime Minister and Green Party leader Åsa Romson has stirred up a storm after she placed Auschwitz in southern Germany instead of Poland, her second gaffe about the holocaust. READ  

Oasis star calls Zlatan 'idiot' but 'likes Sweden'
Noel Gallagher performing earlier this year (L) and Sweden’s star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic (R): Photos: TT

Oasis star calls Zlatan 'idiot' but 'likes Sweden'

One of the UK’s most iconic Britpop era stars, Noel Gallagher, has caused a stir in Sweden after calling its star footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic a ‘moron’ and slamming a Nordic journalist. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Learning Swedish: different rules for expats and refugees?
Sport
IN PICTURES: Thousands welcome home Sweden’s heroes
Politics
Almedalen: The Local's guide to Sweden's power players week
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Swedes soak up sun on hottest day of year
Sport
Sweden celebrates greatest sporting victory in decades
Blog updates

2 July

Som eller att (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! It happens quite often, that my students are confused over when to use “som” and when..." READ »

 

26 June

Editor’s blog, June 26th (The Local Sweden) »

"Greetings from Stockholm, We’re about to transport our newsroom to the idyllic Swedish island of Gotland for..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
People-watching: July 1st
Sponsored Article
VIP Mingle at Almedalen's hottest event
National
Swede battles slug invasion
Sponsored Article
What can we learn from Swedish women's sex habits?
National
VIDEO: Is this herring tasting clip an 'insult to Sweden'?
Gallery
Property of the week: Visby, Gotland
National
Sweden set for sunniest week of year
Gallery
People-watching: June 26th-28th
Features
The Local's essential guide to who's who in Swedish politics
National
More Swedish military exercises as Russia aggression fears grow
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Travel
Why Swedish camp sites are set for a bumper summer
National
Swedish summer's really on its way (at least according to forecasters)
Gallery
People-watching: June 24th
National
Why are southern Swedes angry about becoming 'Danish' again?
Society
Lifestyle: When to catch your favourite features on The Local
National
Is Sweden one of the world's most peaceful nations?
Sponsored Article
Harstena: Travelling to Sweden's secret islands
National
One in ten Swedish cats homeless
Sponsored Article
'I constantly evolve my Swedishness'
Gallery
Property of the week: Värmdö, Stockholm
Society
Would you eat this Swedish pizza?
National
Swedish royals' dream honeymoon
National
Swedish hospital opens first centre for male rape victims
Gallery
People-watching: June 20th-21st
Photo: TT
Lifestyle
Midsummer: The Local's guide to Sweden's craziest festival
Sponsored Article
Murder, myth and magic: Travelling to the birthplace of Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: June 17th
Sponsored Article
Gallery: Life in Sweden's secret archipelago
Society
Seven alternative names for Sweden's Prince Nicolas Paul Gustaf
National
FBI returns stolen Swedish books
National
Want to smell like Zlatan?
National
Royal joy over birth of new prince
Gallery
Property of the week: Brantevik, Simrishamn
National
How racy graffiti inspired a teacher's high school sex class
Gallery
People-watching: June 12th-14th
National
As it happened: Prince Carl Philip marries Sofia Hellqvist
Technology
Is Stockholm the world's creative capital?
National
Timeline: Julian Assange case
Sponsored Article
KTH President: ‘Sweden’s success is because of its size’
Gallery
IN PICTURES: New royal couple Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Features
Ten Swedish festivals to discover
Features
Ten reasons Stockholm is definitely way cooler than Copenhagen
National
VIDEO: Watch Swedish man rescue baby elk from cold creek
National
VIDEO: Have you seen this jet ski blunder at a Malmö hotel opening?
Sponsored Article
Why expat women are choosing Swedish natural birth control
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: Nine questions every expat should ask
Sponsored Article
The millionaire teacher who leads by tough love
Sponsored Article
How to change the world: Malmö to Mogadishu
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,216
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se