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Writer believed to have fled to Sweden

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Writer believed to have fled to Sweden
17:32 CET+01:00
Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen arrived in Europe on Wednesday after fleeing India for security reasons, the Swedish PEN Club told AFP, while unconfirmed media reports indicated she was in Sweden.

"She has landed in Europe. I don't want to say where. But she feels safe ... and she will be examined by doctors. She doesn't want to say anything about her plans for the timebeing," PEN Club deputy chairwoman Maria Modig told AFP.

Modig said Nasreen, who holds a Swedish passport and has been suffering from health complaints, would probably reveal her whereabouts at some point but "that will depend on a security assessment".

Sweden's newspaper of reference Dagens Nyheter reported in its online edition, as did Swedish news agency TT, that Nasreen was very likely in the Scandinavian country.

The writer was forced to flee Bangladesh in 1994 to live in exile, in Sweden among other countries, after radical Muslims accused her of blasphemy over her novel "Lajja" -- or "Shame" -- which depicts the life of a Hindu family persecuted by Muslims in Bangladesh.

She has lived in exile since then, in Europe and the United States.

The 45-year-old gynaecologist-turned-author -- whose predicament recalls that of Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie -- had been seeking permanent residence in India.

But New Delhi had stalled the request, fearful of a backlash from the country's 140-million-plus Muslims.

Nasreen was forced to flee the West Bengal state capital of Kolkata in November after receiving death threats from radical Indian Muslims and had since been living in hiding in New Delhi under Indian government security protection.

The writer had told AFP on Tuesday that the months in isolation had sent her blood pressure soaring and affected her heart and eyesight.

"I am living like a caged bird," she said. "I've become very weak. My eyesight is on the wane. I fear I will become blind unless I move out of here and get my eyes treated."

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