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Lawyers explain Pakistan trip by 'Guantánamo Swede'

TT/David Landes · 23 Nov 2009, 08:30

Published: 23 Nov 2009 08:30 GMT+01:00

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Mehdi Ghezali was arrested on August 28th along with fellow Swedes Munir Awad, 28, 19-year-old Safia Benaouda, and their two and a half-year-old boy while traveling with a group of other foreigners near Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab province.

The group was suspected of traveling from Quetta to Miranshah, the main city in the lawless region of northern Waziristan, where they were to meet an alleged Taliban leader named Zahir Noor.

After spending more than a month in the custody of Pakistani officials, Ghezali and the other Swedes were released on October 11th. No terror charges were ever filed, although Ghezali was cited for entering the country without a proper visa.

In an attempt to clear the air surrounding the circumstances of the trip, Ghezali’s attorneys, Peter Althin and Anton Strand, have provided an account of their client’s trip in an article in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

According to the lawyers, Ghezali and his Swedish companions were in Pakistan as a part of a pilgrimage to celebrate Ramadan in a “larger Pakistani city”. At the time of their arrest, one of the Swedes had claimed they were heading to a meeting with a Muslim revivalist movement in the city of Lahore.

The lawyers explain that the decision to travel to Pakistan arose while the group was traveling through other countries in the Middle East and that the trip was arranged by a tour operator, which had told Ghezali and the other Swedes that visas could be arranged en route.

Althin and Strand are highly critical of both the Swedish state and the media over the way they've treated their client.

The attorneys explain that, despite Ghezali being released from Guantánamo in 2004 without being accused of any wrong doing, he and his family have been under the surveillance of Swedish security service Säpo ever since.

“The situation seems familiar to all of us who’ve read Franz Kafka,” the attorneys write.

They also feel the Swedish media’s coverage of Ghezali has been marked by “xenophobic undertones”.

Story continues below…

They add that their client simply wants to be “left in peace.”

“As no government agency has ever accused him of terrorism or spying, it seems a reasonable request that the Swedish press corps can also abstain from formulating those types of accusations,” write Altin and Strand.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:10 November 23, 2009 by sherkovic
Shame on you 'the local'! Stop calling him the Guantanamo Swede. He has a name and which is Mehdi.
09:16 November 23, 2009 by peropaco
Poor innocent guy; the media has utterly besmirched his reputation ;-)

I am selling the Eiffel Tower, anyone interested? Liberals, Social Democrats??
09:28 November 23, 2009 by dsclimb
This is shocking, an innocent person goes on a little holiday, just happens by chance to go some particulary dodgy areas, even though he has a 2 1/2 year old with him, has a meeting lined up with a local 'friend' and every one things ill of him. How was he too know that Pakistan and Afghan are riddled with Al Queda and Taliban, just looking to recruit a westerner onto their books, it's not like it gets much PR.
09:31 November 23, 2009 by Stormysmoker
I'll swap you the Eifel tower for Tower Bridge, could even throw in Buck's palace and the queen if needed, (to sweeten the deal.)

No on second thoughts forget I said that or some daft politico will think it's a good idea and start to implement it!
09:50 November 23, 2009 by Nemesis
The guy was in gutamano and once he gets out goes on holiday in the Pakistan/Afghanisatan border area.

Either he is a complete imbecile who belongs under permanent care due to such low intelligence or he is involved in something.

No one sane voluntarily goes to that area. Only criminals and terrorists go there.
09:51 November 23, 2009 by Noni
"Ghezali was cited for entering the country without a proper visa".

That's a bit unclear statement. What I think anyone without having a proper visa must be deported immediately if no suspicious records were found against him/her in history. But if there are, that needs to be investigated as it may provide harm to their sovereignty. Political situation which Asian countries are having at the moment, one must double check his status before visiting.

" They add that their client simply wants to be "left in peace." "

Everybody wants to live in peace. Call back your own soldiers from Afghanistan.
09:51 November 23, 2009 by peropaco
@Stormysmoker. I take your up offer but throw in Saffron Burrows and Bee Shaffer instead of the queen;-)))
10:16 November 23, 2009 by Globalnomad
If he truly was on his way to a " larger Pakastani city " to celebrate Ramadan why didn't he simply save time and money and go to Angered or Rosengård instead of risking his life and the lives of his campanions. The next time our friend Mehdi decides to take a religious holiday to some war torn hot spot leave his sorry, ignorant a** there and let's rid ourselves of this scourge of a man who's intentions are obviously not very noble.
10:57 November 23, 2009 by spongepaddy
I agree with Nemesis. How much more tax money, media space and time are we going to waste on this useless lump?

And yes, I would call him a useless lump even if he was a Svensson. Idiocy crosses all boundaries, I'm afraid.
11:27 November 23, 2009 by Osokin
He looks like the Simpson's bus driver from where I stand, but is he ?
11:44 November 23, 2009 by determined
@Nemesis.. "No one sane voluntarily goes to that area. Only criminals and terrorists go there".

'THAT AREA' has a culture, peaceful population representing all walks of life and no doubt now 'THAT AREA' has been plagued by outsider equipped with latest EUROPEAN arms and ammo to pursue the goals as set by uncle SAM. And you also know this.
12:20 November 23, 2009 by WriterDirector
[Legal Disclaimer] This is an opinion only and in no way is to be taken as fact...

Interesting comment above, "No one sane voluntarily goes to that area. Only criminals and terrorists go there". for second I thought the original poster was describing Sweden as a "Safe-Haven" for post 9-11 immigration, as Sweden seems to be handing out free pass cards to unwanted insurgents. Kinda reminds Me of Cuban immagration to Florida in the 1980's. The only good thing to come out of that was 'Scarface", Miami Vice, oh and of course some really good "blow". So what do these new immagrants have to offer besides Rock- Throwing, Raping and Pizza Kebob Kiosks?

Hmm, very curious. Oh, could it be that they represent more voters to the politicians holding office, aka GWB and South-of -the-Border immigrants being promised citizenship?

Hey, every vote counts.

Now about the friendly traveler, What a joke. No sympathy here, as this Insurgent apparently knew what He was doing. Any person in their right mind would most likely-Not be visiting those types of places in current world times. Why is it that these individuals or groups complain when a 'wrong' is done to them, but when they do a wrong, Most Swedes have to turn the other cheek and say vårsågod, for fear of being labeled a 'racist' or worse. This mentality MUST stop.

I'm almost tempted to run for a position in a political arena.

One Big problem lay with the Swedish government, as far as letting certain immigrants here, with a blind eye I might add, in the first place. At least in Amerika, I mean America, the Fatherland, I mean the 'Homeland' security system would be abel to do better background checks as to insure, if at all, that the post 9-11 immigrants don't have any 'Red-flags' or questionable means to why they are there. Sure We all hear that they met a Swedish girl or Man, and have a family here but... on most conversations I have had with these immigrants, they have made it clear that they 'Do Not like it here (Sweden)". Well, then why are they still here? The war is over, so I guess they can go back home. Besides, the way things have gone here in the past, Sweden will need the space for the new Immigrants from the more recent wars that AMERIKA, is hosting.

There is an old saying I heard many years ago, but it really didn't gel until I realized how altogether safe Sweden is until I moved over here from the 'Homeland'.

Take Sweden Back !!! [ Peacefully - Think Smart ] \ ( - _ - ) /
12:36 November 23, 2009 by TJSmith
I would suggest that Mehdi Ghezali, is not a terrorist, as he claims, why put yourself in places and circumstances that show otherwise? If you want to be just left alone, then use your head!
12:58 November 23, 2009 by Beynch
What's the legal technicalities, and procedures, for revoking somebody's citizenship? Could someone please provide a summary? Thanks.
13:18 November 23, 2009 by jonathanjames61

This pakistan guy must be very carefull,you never know what this spy kids are upto,I mean the CIA,SAPO,M15,etc,they always use you without knowing that you are been use to achieve thier dubious aims,at the end you become a victim of their plots,so wacthout,I am telling you from experience,they create and destroy ,for no reasons,then come to tell the world they are good guys,they are devils with 2 face at a time.so shine your eyes,we are no more fools,we know what you think we dont know.
13:25 November 23, 2009 by Buckshot
Only retarded people believes that Mehdi was on a vacation in that area.

That includes some clueless Swedish politicians.
14:42 November 23, 2009 by spy
Innocent until proven guilty.
15:40 November 23, 2009 by mkvgtired
Most people with nothing to hide have their lawyers issue statements for them. Just another welfare recipient booking transnational holidays...nothing new.
16:09 November 23, 2009 by DreEstwd
Sweden needs to revoke this clown's citizenship IMMEDIATELY and let him live in the Middle East where he obviously feels very comfortable.
17:47 November 23, 2009 by izbz
I came from a muslim country and was surprise to hear that this guy went to pakistan for pilgrimage instead of Mecca. Maybe the airline company made a mistake, book him to Pakistan instead....Why Pakistan? not Malaysia, Saudi or Indonesia, yeah, sure they don't have revivalist in any other muslim country....What ever his intention might be, he still sound dumb to me going to a NO NO land after all the trouble he had in Guantanamo.


You are right about not to label him as Guantanamo Swede,,,,,maybe should call him a holy dumb Swede instead who needs to be revive! Or THe Man who took the wrong flight.
17:59 November 23, 2009 by coolguy09
The guy must be on someones payroll for heavens sake why he was travelling to area where even pakistanis think twice of travelling taking his two year old and wife just to provide him cover. The manner in which his matter was highlighted in media ,behind the scene there must be some swap deal
19:36 November 23, 2009 by Bumblebeetuna
Personally, I think he is up to something. My legal opinion is this. He is a free man, innocent until proven guilty. There are many onther ways to look at this.

Maybe he is concerned about his fellow religious folk. It is very possible that he was wrongly accused of being a terrorist and he is now going to help friends that he met in prison. I coulds see many Christians doing the same exact thing while not being "Terrorists".
21:12 November 23, 2009 by krigeren
If the guys name was Sven Larsson he would never have been called a terrorist. He could have been called a human aid worker ;-)

Maybe he has a chip on his shoulder and wants to tell a story of how he was treated unfairly at GitMo. If this guy were a "westerner" and the same thing happened to him in a middle east country they would make a movie of the week about it...and people would be up in arms.

US intelligence does not have a very good track record and has cast nets pretty far, wide, and often times inaccurately. The "War on Terror" has not helped to make much friends in the middle east. Most likely Mehdi is just collateral damage from poorly thought out policy.

In summary, taking a "side" in this debate is exactly what people in power want you to do...become polarized..when everyday people are divided it makes it much easier for the ruling class to do their bidding without interference.
02:36 November 24, 2009 by Beynch
Why are laaaaaaywers such pathetic creeps? Most are nothing more than vultures with law degrees! Their lies and gobble-di-gook is reeking to the high heavens. Althin and Strand are about as credible as a cinder block, and their only interest is their own. Does anyone really take them seriously? I doubt it.
05:02 November 24, 2009 by here for the summer
@spy and @bumblebeetuna and @noni


innocent until proven ok .. but how much Swedish tax money should be spent on an "innocent" person deliberately and stupidly putting himself, his wife and 2 year old in danger .. none ..


What does soldiers in Afganistan have to do with a person entering a terrorist controled area illegally "pakistan law" and being bailed out 3rd time by Swedish tax payers ?


tell me about the Christian terrorists being trained where? if there are such things and such areas .. I agree that taxpayers should not bail them out or better yet arrest them .. so tell us where are these Chrisitian terrorist training areas .. FYI . I am an atheist and think all religions are untrue an so don't call me a racist
09:26 November 24, 2009 by wenddiver
Where are the Swedes who love their country so much that they would throw any terrorist out, from any country or religion??? Who is willing to stand up for your freedom???? Why are terorists allowed to home base in your country???? What is the futue of your Daughter, Wives, Mothers, Sisters and Female Friends if you consign them to the Birka and Shari law as demanded by the terrorists. You need to arm your Military and Police appropriatly, and give all terrorists and their supportes 24 hours to leave the country or face life in prison.

Expect loyalty from everyone who has a Swedish passport or as Humphrey Bogart would have said "Stop playing the Sap."
11:22 November 24, 2009 by mysticbumwipe
The vast majority of comments presume guilt where absolutely none has been shown.

Even more telling is the consistent refrain that if he was innocent he wouldn't go to this area of the world??? ! =-0

So apart from the constant (and frankly weird) inference of a crime JUST for being in Pakistan


I somehow doubt any answer will be forthcoming... but look forward to being surprised.

So... Anybody got an answer??

"the hypocrite is the person who refuses to apply to them-self

the standards that they apply to others!"

- Naom Chomsky
12:33 November 24, 2009 by here for the summer
1) He was illegally in Pakistan without a visa .. a local crime in all countries including Sweden. He was arrested by the local government. The 3rd time this has happened if you count his 1st in Afganistan when he was in a war zone with a weapon fighting for a terrorist group ( the guys who trained the guys flew planes into world trade center and killed 300 people including some swedes ). 2nd time was in Africa same story . Now 3rd time not just in Pakistan but in the very area where the tribal areas where Al Queda terrorist training bases and leadership are .

The real crime is that Sweden once again wasted Swedish taxpayer money and political influence getting him out of a situation where he is doing illegal things in countries with terrorist associates.

question: If commits or materially provides support to a terrorist act like the London, Bombay or Madrid bombing is Sweden partially responsible ?

As a Swede being caught in these terrorist training areas ( like london bombers ) his 3rd time and bailed out and supported by Swedish taxpayers during these trips. Doesn't Sweden have an obligation to prevent planning and support of terror attacks on other countries from its soil?
13:01 November 24, 2009 by Beynch
Now that Mehdi is back in Sweden, what kind of work does he do? How does he support himself?
20:08 November 24, 2009 by izbz
@wenddiver, bumblebee

Terrorist or not we are not really sure But dumb with IQ zero maybe. His brain must be situated on his left toe. Can't blame a guy who think with his left toe....

Only smart thing is that he is smarter than the Swedish government, he knows how to use them to bail him out . Too bad, we are the one who pay all the taxes , or maybe I should say tax payers' money well used!!!!!!
22:17 November 24, 2009 by mkvgtired
The typical it is America's fault (or the UK's, or France's, or China's, or India's or Denmark's). Maybe the Swedish government should fund another cultural center. That should help his calm his hatred of the West. This attitude of appeasement worked great in London, we all know no extremism has ever come out of there. And it is a demonstrable fact that Islamic Fundamentalism began only after the Iraq war and Guantanamo. Dont worry, I am sure there will be enough specials on European news networks about America's audacity to arrest terrorists no movie will be necessary.
06:40 November 25, 2009 by wenddiver
Where are Swedish patriots on these sights??? Does anybody ever say "Sweden is not just a ta xfunded meal ticket, I believe in this country, it's culture and people and am willing to defend it? Or maybe even just think it when they think nobody is watching.

Does anybody ever say I served in Swedens Army and am proud to have given a part of my life to preserve her Freedom. Does anybody ever thank your young Soldiers and Sailors for their service when they see them on the street.

Why let people like this terrorist wanna be ruin this country.

Why not help some real Swedes for a change.
08:32 November 25, 2009 by mysticbumwipe
He is not a terrorist.

He has never been found guilty of acts of terrorism or anything remotely similar.

This maty be hard for some to understand but in Sweden - and in most of Europe - people are assumed innocent until PROVEN guilty.

Its something we're are rather proud of.

As of the time of their release Swedish officials had still not received a formal report from Pakistan explaining why the four were detained.

Attempting to enter a country with the intention of seeking an entry visa is NOT a crime.

At the moment NO charge of any crime has been made.
11:09 November 25, 2009 by here for the summer

pakistan laws on who can enter without a visa. the crime he was arrested for. although not convicted because Swedish taxpayers sent Swedish officials to ask for his 2 year old and his wife release.


He was also arrested previously arrested and released with Swedish government assistance in Somolia and Afganistan ( there he had a gun and was fighting with a terrorist group ) the one he says he doesn't know ..

you are either a terrorist supporter yourself or an idiot
15:53 November 25, 2009 by mkvgtired
My point exactly. Those saying he is innocent until proven guilty fail to mention that the Swedish government has no intention of proving him guilty. That is like saying Sweden does not have the highest rate of rape in Europe because many of the offenders are never prosecuted.
19:10 November 25, 2009 by izbz

Do you really think he work? Landed himself in Guantanamo, then Somalia, Afganistan now again Pakistan, Too busy getting revival, travelling as a pilgrim and in jail to work, Don't suppose he pay any taxes except spending taxes.

Really disappointed about the government supporting these kind of good for nothing, Maybe he is living on social security, akassa or maybe as' Papa Ledigt'. Of course all these money comes from the people who work their arse off paying the high taxes of Sweden. At least give the money to those who genuinely deserve it than people like Mr brain in the toe
19:21 November 25, 2009 by travels

Unfortunately it is because of people like you that Europe is turning into Eurabia. You won't even realize what hit you until you get run over and probably even then you'll be saying what a nice group of people Islamic Fundamentalists are... and of course always innocent... to you the real bad guys are the western one that try to save their countries, freedoms and way of life.

"Attempting to enter a country with the intention of seeking an entry visa is NOT a crime." I suggest than whenever you travel you don't bother getting visas for those countries where you would need to have one in advance. Have a good trip!. To be INSIDE of a country that requires a visa without one is ILLEGAL. If you get to their border without one and try to get one at that border and they give it to you you are fine, otherwise you turn around and don't enter that country. HE WAS INSIDE PAKISTAN...without a visa, in one the lawless region of northern Waziristan, where they were to meet an alleged Taliban leader named Zahir Noor. WAKE UP!
08:26 November 26, 2009 by izbz

Where do you think that money for the lawyers come from? For 500kr an hr, a lot of lawyers will be willing to stand by his side. Clock is ticking.....!!!!!
09:11 November 26, 2009 by mysticbumwipe
I actually have been with someone who turned up at immigration at Delhi airport in India without a visa and attempted to gain one there and then. They were granted a period of three days to obtain one.

So still no evidence of any crime.


Yet so many people here insist this person is guilty of something?

I regard it as an example of racial stereotyping and prejudice.

As far as as I am concerned sympathising with the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Algeria, Chechnya Iran, Lebanon, Palestine or any of the other majority muslim countries suffering from the effects of foreign imperialist interference attacks and/or occupation is ALSO not a crime.

You would support your countries from the same wouldn't you?
11:03 November 26, 2009 by izbz

Ya! in Asian countries, it is very common to get a grace period of said 3 days to obtain a visa or will be ask to go back to your last destination to get one before grant entry if a person follow according to procedure going thru' the immigration. But this particular guy and family is already in Pakistan, how did he pass the immigration? Or did he bother pass any immigration at all. ?

Even in EU countries I do not need a visa but still I have to follow the procedure going thru' immigration checkpoint.

So What is the next excuse? By the way I have travelled a lot in Asia .
15:08 November 26, 2009 by here for the summer

as izbz notes showing up at a legal entry point registering and being granted 3 days is notes but crossing into the country without checking in is illegal entry everywhere so it's two crimes ( not visa and illegal entry )

your charges of racial prejudice are in reality the opposite .. if this guy was IRA or red brigade he would not have been allowed to do this from Sweden nor have been bailed out and had millions of kroner spent on his defense..Ft. Hood terrorist attack is an example of your type of extreme political correctness that is causes deaths. There was a guy talking to a known advocate of jihad ( and terrorist attacks ) and the US gave him a pass to not appear prejudiced .. We can no longer allow people to say we have to ignore threats and terrorist activity just because it is muslim.

as to sympathy for oppressed people.. if he was an IRA supporter meeting with the terrorist arm it is the same as what he has been caught at 3 times ,

I was in India last year where your misunderstood heroes trained in Pakistan were killing anyone with a European passport .. who is the oppressor .. the racist ..

you mix many countries into this giant mismash an call it oppression ,,

just a few obvious errors the

Iranian government is the oppressor .. not some imaginary oppressor

Taliban ( afganistan and pakistan bases ) provided safety and support for terrorist training camps that lead to London, 9/11, Madrid, Bombay terrorist attacks on innocent people .

maybe if he really is a supporter of oppressed people he could set up a school for girls that teaches some real skill and help defend the girls from acid attacks and burning of schools ..

this guy is a terrorist loser and the Swedish people are being duped into supporting his terrorist activity ,
04:30 November 27, 2009 by wenddiver
Here for the Summer- thanks for explainig that so well to Bumwipe in the last post, but I strongly suspect that his loyalty is not to Sweden, but the very evil forces tis man represents. Only a mad man could think of the current Iranian Government as the oppressed instead of Opressor. After the last election , even their own citizens don't believe that.

God save Sweden from these terrorists on this Thanksgiving day as I doubt the Swedish government will.
05:23 November 28, 2009 by mkvgtired
Good post
09:23 November 28, 2009 by mysticbumwipe
The fatcs remain this man has NOT been charged wityh any crime yet you all assume him guilty of something.

None of us here appear to know the actual circumstances of his arrest but most of you still think you KNOW and therefore judge him on no real evidence, but merely racial sterotyping. You seem to nbe of the opinion 'Hey the guy's is a muslim and he was illegally and unjust ly incarcerated by the US for five years so he must be bad?".


"...who is the oppressor .. the racist ..?" you ask.

You need to read up some history.

WE in the west are the racist oppressors.

Ever heard of 'blowback?'

I assume many here are americans. Just look at your own racist oppressive history. Your standard of living is built on the racist oppression of black slaves and the slave trade plus the ethnic cleansing and holocaust of the native american indians. Then there is your oppressive and terrorist support in the South Americas, support of the Khmer Rouge, support of Saddam Husein, support of the Egyptian dictatorship, Saudi undemocracy, support of Suharto and his crimes in East Timor, etc., etc., etc. (Getting the bigger picture yet?)

Then look at what Belgium France and Britain have been doing in the Middle East and the world over to serve their imperialistic and economic power goals.

Well excuse me, but I still prefer to assume innocence until proven in this case.

"Minimum moral integrity requires that if we think something is wrong when 'they' do it, then its wrong when WE do it."

"This is an elementary moral principle: the most important thing for each of us is the predictable consequences of our OWN actions. Its very easy to condemn the crimes of others. ...And its the same for each of us, whether in individual life or anywhere else."

"The hypocrite is the person who refuses to apply to themself the standards that they apply to others!"
17:21 November 29, 2009 by here for the summer
you are wrong .. about his arrest and charges .. he was charged in pakistan .

you are wrong about so much else .. Khmer Rouge is the most glaring example .. who were supported by the communist Chinese and whose model was Maoist

East Timor is another example of your deliberate distotrions of the facts

If you start with the assumption that the west is bad and that terrorism and terrorist attacks are justified then add in blatant untruths as above then you are too ignorant to debate.
13:09 December 3, 2009 by mysticbumwipe
Ad hominem against the 'messenger' is no argument against the 'messag'e.

It is often the last resort of a defeated debater.

I understand if your only sources of information are the American main news outlets, that what I wrote above will come as a surprise to you.

But it is in fact accurate.

If you doubt it check out the writings of John Pilger and Naom Chomsky to name but two independent writers who have exposed the support of Khmer Rouge and Suharto's atrocities in East Timor by the U.S and the U.K.
08:33 December 4, 2009 by mysticbumwipe
US clandestine support of Khmer Rouge by Jack Colhoun:

08:40 December 4, 2009 by mysticbumwipe
Suharto was a ruthless dictator, a grand larcenist and a mass killer with as many victims as Cambodia's Pol Pot. But he served U.S. economic and geopolitical interests, was helped into power by Washington, and his dictatorial rule was warmly supported for 32 years by the U.S. economic and political establishment. The U.S. was still training the most repressive elements of Indonesia's security forces as Suharto's rule was collapsing in 1998, and the Clinton administration had established especially close relations with the dictator ("our kind of guy," according to a senior administration official quoted in the New York Times, 10/31/95).

from 'Good and Bad Genocide - Double standards in coverage of Suharto and Pol Pot', By Edward S. Herman

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The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
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