Father-in-law appeals over al-Qaeda libel

A man who told the FBI that his son-in-law had links to al-Qaeda as a way of avenging perceived sleights to his daughter, is appealing his conviction for libel to Sweden’s Supreme Court.

The father-in-law, from Lund in southern Sweden, was sentenced to community service and ordered to pay 60,000 kronor damages for getting his estranged son-in-law arrested on his way to a conference in Orlando in 2006.

The son-in-law’s arrest followed a tip-off submitted by the father-in-law to the FBI’s website in which the Swede was reported to be “most likely linked to Muslim terror org AQ networks in Sweden and is known to speak about helping Muslim world on US terror.”

The man was arrested by armed guards as his plane touched down in Orlando. He was questioned for several hours and was forbidden from contacting anyone.

In his witness statement to Lund District Court he said he was forced to sit in a cell wearing only shorts and flip-flops. The cell was equipped with just a concrete bed and sackcloth bedclothes and was smeared with blood and faeces, he said. He was released from custody after a day but was forced to return to Sweden, which he said led to his company losing contracts. The arrest also means that he must now apply for a visa before making future visits to the US.

Lund District Court ruled that the father-in-law made the report to the FBI as revenge for what he saw as his son-in-law’s unreasonable behaviour towards his daughter. The couple were undergoing a separation at the time.

Among the reasons he gave for making the report was that his son-in-law enjoyed playing computer war games in which he would take the role of an Arab. He also claimed that he “practically said that the Taliban had the right idea about dealing with women.” The son-in-law denied ever playing war games or making comments about the Taliban and their views on women.

In his appeal to Sweden’s Supreme Court, the father-in-law asks for the verdict to be overturned. He also asks for the order to pay damages to be quashed. His submission to the Supreme Court gives no grounds for the appeal, but states that further documents will be submitted in January.