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CRIME

Czech court rules to extradite Swedish terror suspect

A Czech court has ruled that the 41-year-old Swede being held in Prague on suspicion of terror offences can be extradited to the United States.

A prosecutor had told the court on Monday that the crimes of which Oussama Kassir is accused are within the scope of the country’s extradition treaty.

The prosecutor was speaking at the start of a second hearing to decide the fate of Kassir, who was arrested in 2005 at Prague airport while in transit on his way from Sweden to Lebanon.

Oussama Kassir was arrested under an Interpol warrant. The decision on whether to extradite him depended on how the Czech courts and the country’s justice minister interpreted the extradition treaty with the United States.

An earlier hearing was postponed while the court waited for more evidence to arrive from the United States. That evidence arrived at the court earlier this week, and consisted of witness statements backing up claims that Kassir helped run a training camp for terrorists on a ranch in Oregon in 1999.

Kassir has denied terror charges. A Swedish prosecutor, Tomas Lindstrand, had previously investigated the American claims but opted not to pursue the case.

Sweden’s ambassador in Prague, Catherine von Heidenstam, has been following the case:

“The defence counsel argued in quite a long submission that the information [from witnesses] is obtained by force and is therefore not a basis for charges, and also argued that the case had already been examined in Sweden without a prosecution or conviction,” she said on Monday.

The decision to extradite Kassir could be appealed. Even if a higher court decided to extradite him this would only happen with the approval of the country’s justice minister.

TERRORISM

US sanctions far-right Swede for links to Russian terror group

The United States on Wednesday slapped sanctions on white nationalists from Russia and Sweden, warning they posed a threat and that one raised funds for Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

US sanctions far-right Swede for links to Russian terror group

After decades focused on Islamist extremism, the United States has increasingly identified a threat from the far right, classifying in 2020 the Russian Imperial Movement as a terrorist organization, the first such action against a white supremacist group.

The State Department on Wednesday designated as a terrorist Anton Thulin, a Swede who allegedly traveled to Saint Petersburg for paramilitary instruction by the Russian group.

Thulin, who was formerly active in the Nordic Resistance Movement, was sentenced to prison in 2017 for setting off a bomb near a refugee center in Sweden. After his release, he was expelled by Poland, where authorities said he was seeking further training.

“The US government remains deeply concerned about the evolving racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist threat worldwide,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“An element of it entails violent white supremacists traveling internationally to train and fight with likeminded individuals.”

The Treasury Department also blocked any US assets and criminalized financial transactions with two members of the Russian Imperial Movement, identified as Stanislav Shevchuk and Alexander Zhuchkovsky.

Shevchuk has traveled to the United States and Europe to unite far-right extremists, while Zhuchkovsky has used social media and online payment systems to buy military supplies for Russian troops in Ukraine, the Treasury Department said.

The Russian group denounced the US terrorist designation in 2020, insisting that it was only helping volunteers fighting on behalf of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Canada earlier this year followed suit by banning the Russian Imperial Movement as a terrorist organization along with the Proud Boys, a far-right group involved in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. 

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