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Vilks to get police protection

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12:05 CEST+02:00
Artist Lars Vilks is to be offered police protection following a statement from al-Qaeda's purported leader in Iraq offering a $100,000 dollar reward for his assassination.

The Swedish Security Service (Säpo) called in extra staff on Saturday evening to assess the seriousness of the threat directed at the caricaturist behind a controversial cartoon of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

After a short spell abroad, Vilks is set to land at Arlanda airport in Stockholm on Sunday afternoon. Speaking to news agency TT from Germany, the artist said that he had been in discussions with the police

"An agreement is to be reached regarding what sort of protection I'll get from the police. I'm going to have some sort of personal protection, so they're going to discuss that with me and then decide how to proceed," said Vilks.

The artists expects to return to his home in southern Sweden on Monday.

"I live in the countryside, quite isolated. I suppose you could say I was an easy target if it came to it," he said.

Despite the risks, he insisted that he had few qualm about returning home.

"No, no, I'm not paranoid. I think I possess a healthy rationality; I know that there are some risks involved but one shouldn't exaggerate them either," he said.

The threats issued on Saturday in the name of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi were also directed at the editor of local newspaper Nerikes Allehenda, Ulf Johansson, as well as a number of major Swedish companies.

Lars Vilks admitted he was surprised that the government had not yet commented on the matter.

"I can understand that they must be squirming, but they should come out and condemn this. It's had to believe that they haven't done so," he said.

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