Terror suspect 'will be tortured' if deported
The Local · 22 Feb 2007, 19:28
Published: 22 Feb 2007 19:28 GMT+01:00
Hassan Assad is expecting Sweden's supreme court to decide on his deportation within a month. Meanwhile he has become a cause celebre for liberal and left-wing politicians and human rights organizations.
Assad is accused by the Swedish security police, Säpo, of working undercover for terrorist organizations and funding terrorist activities. In an interview with The Local, he denied the charges, explaining that he has been providing aid for the welfare of Palestinians.
According to the Red Cross, if Assad goes back to Jordan, his country of citizenship, he is likely to be tortured in police interrogation. This, they say, would make his deportation a breach of local and international human rights laws.
Despite these protests, the deportation has been given the green light by the Swedish Migration Minister, Tobias Billström, who said he had enough evidence to accuse Assad of terrorism.
Amnesty International denounced the decision as a contravention of UN and international human rights laws. Bengt Westerberg, head of the Swedish Red Cross and a former Liberal Party leader, said that all Assad has been accused of is 'helping Palestinian refugees living in dire conditions.'
A Jordanian of Palestinian origin, Assad said he has been an activist for the ‘Palestinian cause,’ working with Palestinian solidarity groups registered in Sweden.
According to him, these groups have been arranging festivities for Palestinians in Sweden, and sending financial aid to improve the standards of living for Palestinians in the Middle East.
Assad is directly linked to an organization called Sanabel Al Aqsa, which arranged for Palestinians in Sweden to meet with Atef Uddwan, the Palestinan Minister for refugees, in Malmö. Sanabel Al Aqsa is registered as a terrorist organization in the United States.
Assad said that following the meeting Säpo arrested a Swedish member of the organization, named Khaled, but released him after three days, as “they found nothing against him.”
Later, they offered Hassan a sum of money “in exchange for my undercover service.” He said they told him that they would ask him to travel to different destinations and to report on the activities of different groups.
“I told them, if I see a threat to Sweden’s security I would naturally let them know about it immediately.” He added that he refused to cooperate for ideological reasons.
Meanwhile, he says he has been sending money to orphans in the West Bank, and contributing to aid collections to provide provisions for hospitals and school children.
“Säpo thought I was funding terrorists.”
Assad, 39, was born in Kuwait to two Palestinian parents. In 1996, he came to Sweden as a ‘humanitarian refugee’. He has been living in Angered, Gothenburg with his wife, Maha, and their three children. The wife and children were given Swedish citizenship.
Swedish Migration Minister Tobias Billström said Assad was refused Swedish citizenship because he “refused to cooperate with Säpo.” Billström told the Swedish press he has enough evidence to accuse and deport Assad.
The Red Cross and Assad himself suspect that the US ordered the investigation into him.
“Despite that Sanabel Al Aqsa is a registered organization in Sweden, it has been listed a terrorist organization by the US government, along with Stockholm-based Baraka Group,” Assad said.
Hassan told The Local that he rejects this description of the group:
“They cooperate with Palestinian organizations that are recognized by the Palestinian authority and the Israeli government. These organizations are meant to be working for humanitarian aid, providing medicine to hospitals and school bags to children, among other methods of dispensing provisions,” he said.
The accusations of US involvement in Assad's case highlights possible similarities to the cases of ‘Extra-ordinary renditions', when CIA and Swedish agents sent two Swedish residents, Mohammad AlZery and Ahmad Agiza, to Egypt. There they were tortured and investigated by the Egyptian police, despite a deal between the Egyptian and Swedish governments guaranteeing their safety from abuse.
Robert Baer, a former CIA agent who was based in Jordan has said Jordan is a destination for interrogating US terror suspects to get “good information out of them”, whereas, Syria and Egypt are destinations to get “rid of them.”