Swede questioned about Stockholm mosque

Ahmed Essafri, the Swedish citizen of Moroccan descent arrested in Morocco on December 25th, is reported to have spent ten days in a prison cell with his hands and feet bound and his eyes blindfolded. Moroccan security services have been questioning him about a mosque in the Brandbergen suburb of Stockholm, Dagens Nyheter reports.

The newspaper spoke to Essafri’s daughter after the family visited him in the Moroccan jail where he is being held.

“When he was arrested he was led away with his hands and feet tied and with a blindfold on. He does not know where he was taken but he thinks it was far underground,” she told Dagens Nyheter.

He is then reported to have spent the following ten days bound, blindfolded and isolated in a small cell. Security services are said to have interrogated him around the clock.

“The questions were all just about Sweden, about a mosque in Brandbergen, about who went there, what they did and what they talked about,” said Essafri’s daughter.

He was also quizzed about another Swede of Moroccan origin, who had his assets frozen by the US Finance Department in early December 2006.

The 41-year-old man was described by the American authorities as having been an “undisputed leader for an extremist group” associated with a Muslim community in the same Stockholm suburb. These suspicions have not led to any charges being brought against the man in Sweden.

The family previously told Dagens Nyheter that they received information from a Moroccan police officer that Essafri was arrested following a request from the USA.

“The allegations are clearly about something in Sweden rather than Morocco. A Swedish citizen is being questioned with these methods in Morocco about the situation in Sweden!

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is trying to help us but all of the information seems to be coming from Sweden,” said Essafri’s daughter.

While clearly upset about his treatment, she also notes that her father has not been physically beaten by his captors.

“But this is psychological torture. He has now developed severe anxiety and an old stomach ulcer has resurfaced,” she said.

He has however been allowed to see a doctor and received medicine for both his anxiety and the ulcer.

“He is not tied up anymore either and he has had his blindfold removed,” she said.

Essafri was arrested on the night of 25th December at his family home in the coastal town of Tetouan. It was initially unclear whether he had been arrested or kidnapped.

On Friday he appeared in a Moroccan anti-terror court accused of participating in a recruitment network for foreign jihadis in Iraq.

New detention proceedings have been set for Thursday and Essafri’s lawyer, Abdel-Hay Alami, is hopeful of securing his release.

“We have so far not seen any evidence whatsoever. Neither his temporary residence in Morocco nor his Swedish home have been searched.

“And these are serious allegations, on which an independent court is to reach a decision,” said Alami.