Swedish court grants asylum to ex-Guantanamo prisoner

A Swedish court has overturned a deportation order for a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner from China.

According to a ruling issued on Wednesday by the Migration Court, 34-year-old Adil Hakimjan will instead be granted permanent residency with refugee status in Sweden.

Hakimjan traveled to Sweden in November 2007 to participate in a conference organized by the Swedish chapter of the Helsinki Commission on Human Rights, according to court documents.

He entered the country from Albania, where he had been living since his release from the US military’s Guantanamo Bay prison, where Hakimjan had been held for almost five years.

Despite having been granted asylum in Albania, Hakimjan filed another asylum claim in Sweden following his participation in the conference.

His primary motivation was to be near his sister, who lives in Sweden and is his only blood relation outside of China.

Both Hakimjan and his sister fled China because they are members of the Uighur people, a Muslim people from north-west China that have been persecuted by the Chinese government.

According to court documents, Hakimjan fled China in 1999 before being sold by Pakistani farmers to the US military for $5,000 in 2001.

He then spent four and a half years imprisoned at the US military’s base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba before being deported to Albania.

In June 2008, the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) initially rejected Hakimjan’s request for asylum in Sweden, in part because he had been granted residency in Albania and there was little risk of him being deported back to China.

The agency also doubted whether the woman Hakimjan claimed was his sister was in fact related to him.

Hakimjan’s attorney appealed the case, strengthening his client’s claims with new DNA evidence proving that the woman was Hakimjan’s sister.

Now the Migration Board’s deportation of Hakimjan has been overturned, allowing him to remain in Sweden.

“The way in which Adil Hakimjan has been compelled to seek protection, his family connections, and reasons of a humanitarian nature have all contributed to the Migration Court finding sufficiently compelling reasons to make an exception from the first country of asylum principle and grant him permanent residence as a refugee,” wrote Carl-Otto Schéle, the lead judge in the case, in a statement.