Swedish journalist arrested in Syria

A 61-year old Palestinian-born Swedish journalist has been arrested in Syria reportedly for insulting the Syrian state, Sweden's foreign ministry said on Sunday.

Swedish media said the reporter, whom they identified as Rachid Alhajeh, was arrested at Damascus airport earlier this month. He was being questioned for allegedly insulting the Syrian state ten years ago, when he interviewed an asylum-seeking Syrian for Swedish television.

In the interview, the Syrian was reported to have made critical comments about his home country, attracting the attention of Syria’s secret service, the reports said.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Myriam Mannbro told AFP that the Swedish government had not been informed of the nature of the charges and was seeking a meeting with the journalist “but we still haven’t had the chance to see him”.

The Palestinian-born journalist emigrated to Sweden in the 1970s and holds a Swedish passport, but reports here said this may be of little help in his current situation if Syria declines to recognize his Swedish citizenship.