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Iran puts ten Swedes on Interpol wanted list

David Landes · 29 Dec 2009, 15:41

Published: 29 Dec 2009 12:39 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Dec 2009 15:41 GMT+01:00

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The men, all of whom hail from Iran’s Kurdistan province, came to Sweden as political refugees twenty years ago, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reports.

Despite being active critics of the Iranian regime for more than thirty years, the men’s names and pictures only recently appeared on Interpol’s list of wanted fugitives, following a request from Iran.

“I was obviously surprised that Interpol would simply describe us using the same words as the Iranian police. It seems very strange to me,” Khaled Haji Mohammadi, one of the men now labeled as a fugitive by Interpol, told The Local.

Mohammadi is one of twelve members of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran - Hekmatist whose names were posted on the Interpol list.

“I don't know what sort of political or economic agreement Iran may have with Interpol, but it's very surprising that Interpol would abide by the demands of a request from a regime that has executed so many of its critics.”

Mohammadi doesn't deny he has long been critical of the Islamic regime in Iran, which he claims has imprisoned and killed many fellow activists in the years since he left the country to seek political asylum in Sweden.

“I'm used to being harassed and criticized by the Islamic regime in Iran,” he said.

But Interpol's decision to agree to Iran's request to list him and his colleagues as organized criminals and terrorists left him puzzled.

While Mohammadi has no plans to back down from supporting human and workers' rights in Iran, he remains concerned that by enlisting a respected international policing body, Iran may add legitimacy to its claims.

“Obviously it's a problem because it's Interpol,” he said.

“No one cares what Iran says, but if it's on Interpol, that's something different.”

Mohammadi has long been in the crosshairs of the Iranian authorities, having supported a number of pro-human rights campaigns over the years, most recently spearheading a campaign to support student demonstrators who clashed with authorities in 2007.

He suspects that the regime in Iran, under mounting pressure from demonstrators within the country, sees Interpol warrants as a new avenue for silencing its critics.

“One way they think they can stop demonstrations in Iran is to target well known activists,” Mohammadi explained.

“If the Iranian regime succeeds in doing something against such popular rights activists, then perhaps the people fighting for freedom in Iran will get scared.”

He also wondered why Iran chose him and his colleagues to appear on Interpol’s wanted list.

“I’m not exactly sure why they chose us here in Sweden. There are critics of the regime in Iran in a number of western countries,” he said.

“I guess they had to start somewhere.”

If Iran succeeds in extraditing any of the men currently listed on Interpol’s list, Mohammadi fears it may embolden the regime to put more names up the list.

“At this point, Interpol is responsible for what happens next,” he said, adding that he remains skeptical that any extraditions will actually take place

“I think people and authorities around the world are smarter than that,” he said.

So far Swedish authorities have not acted on the warrants.

According to chief public prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand, simply issuing a warrant isn’t enough to justify launching an investigation, explaining that his office would only get involved if Swedish police believe the country issuing the warrant has enough evidence to prove the case is worth pursuing.

“Then we’ll see what the Iranians want. It’s usually the case that to get people extradited to sue them, or in a request for legal assistance, that we question the people involved and so on,” he told DN.

Story continues below…

Arezo Julie Jacobsson, a lawyer leading efforts to help Mohammadi and his colleagues clear their names, also believed Iran’s decision to issue warrants was a scare tactic meant to silence its critics.

She too was critical of Interpol for publishing the men’s names at Iran’s request and vowed to explore all available legal options to have the names removed.

“They feel offended and want to do everything they can to fix this,” she told DN.

Mohammadi said it would likely “take some time” but is hopeful his name will eventually be removed from the Interpol wanted list.

In the meantime, he has no plans for cutting back on his efforts supporting Iranian activists fighting for their rights.

“I've been active and will continue to be active defending human rights in Iran,” he said.

In an open letter to Interpol dated December 21st, the Worker-Communist Party of Iran - Hekmatist said it was shocked by the inclusion on Interpol's list of members who were "all veteran and popular political activists and respected figures within the Iranian opposition movement.

"They are all recognised political refugees and are engaged in open, public and transparent political activities against the Iranian government. [...] We believe you should remove this list and your call immediately," the party wrote.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:05 December 29, 2009 by Beynch
This story cries out for commentary from the public. I would like to know more though before I express an opinion.
13:26 December 29, 2009 by benomax
Get hold of them and let the law take its course. Any body that chooses to be a criminal regardless of where he or she comes from should be dealt with by the law period.
13:47 December 29, 2009 by CarlBlack
Time to put terrorist Ahmedinejad on that list
14:03 December 29, 2009 by Rick Methven
So if opposition activists in Iran, manage to escape and are given political asylum in any country, all the Iranians have to do to extradite them back to Iran to kill them, is to put them on the most wanted list?

Maybe the US should try that with the 3 US citizens that the Iranians are holding

14:03 December 29, 2009 by laura ka baal
@carlblack,,,,they must be,what Ahmedinejad has done no rotten egg could ever do so.
15:17 December 29, 2009 by Iraniboy
It depends. If these Iranian-Swedes are memebers of MKO or similar terrorist organisations that have killed thousands on Iranians so far, they should be arrested and prosecuted but if they are those poor vicitms of recent outrage in Tehran, they are simply proterters who aheppend to be victims of current thick-headed Iranian government!! This news doesn't clarify clearly.
15:23 December 29, 2009 by princeally
well..i think swidish government should help those people and protect them, against DANGEROUS punnishment from iranian officials..guess what? they will hang them up..if they can be able to catch them.
16:28 December 29, 2009 by skatty
The Islamic regime of Iran has always used different methods to sustain its dictatorship. It seems that this time they are using Interpol!
18:32 December 29, 2009 by EricEric
These ten people are as much swedish as Kunta Kinte is swedish. Thanks to the swedish government you can now see "Swedes arrested in Pakistan for terrorism", "Swedes joins the islamic movment in Somalia". We, ethnic swedes, just stand in awe. This is a Sweden no longer owned by swedes.
18:45 December 29, 2009 by canuk
i agree with EricEric here, as a canadian, its a privilage for me to be living and working here...this is not how many of these new 'swedes' seem to view it. Its more of a free passport to go around the world and spread hate. the swedish goverment has flubbered this up big time and as far as i can see its going to get worse before it gets better.
19:30 December 29, 2009 by Rick Methven

"New Swedes"

They have been here for 20 years!!!

How long have you been here As*sehole

Read the story and engage what brain you may have
19:57 December 29, 2009 by Kaethar
@Rick Methven: Er... a New Swede (or nysvensk) is any Swedish person who is not ethnically Swedish. It involves people born in Sweden as well. Ethnically Swedish people are known as ursvenskar.
22:25 December 29, 2009 by ou2chi

Kurds "spreading hate" around the world? Do you really know who Kurds are, their history, why they fled? Stop being heartless. As Rick advised engage what (may I add, little) brain you may have. BTW which Indigenous North American tribe do you belong to? If not, you are a 'new' Canadian, the offspring of some criminal who probably fled from some law in his native country to hide the great white north. Stop stirring Xenophobic tendencies, and while while you are at it, grow a brain.
23:12 December 29, 2009 by amirhosein
It is absurd that a brutish ruthless government, which suppresses civilians inside its borders, can do such a shameless deed.

Now they are violating human rights outside its borders, and it is high time they should be stopped.

Watchful, Interpol, watchful!
23:26 December 29, 2009 by amirhosein
@Kaethar: Isn't it a derogatory word, insinuating subtle shades of discrimination?
00:25 December 30, 2009 by markusd

And what if someone comes from a country where those in power can make anyone a criminal by simply changing the definition?
01:30 December 30, 2009 by wxman
Clearly, these are the good guys. But, we need to keep track of all the players, just in case. It helps us when the poo hits the fan.
01:58 December 30, 2009 by Kaethar
@amirhosein: No, it's a term used to distinguish between ethnic Swedes and those of recent foreign descent. Most people realise there is a difference and many of these kids with foreign parents adopt a "blatte" (aka eternal outsider) identity. Many teachers and integration workers encourage them to identify as nysvenskar instead. An ethnic Swede is someone who identifies solely as Swedish and places no relevance to any foreign roots they may have. Because Swedish is both an ethnicity and a nationality the distinction between ursvenskar and nysvenskar was made to appease both sides. From the ursvenskar who felt their ethnic identity was being threatened to the nysvenskar who didn't quite know where they fit in in Swedish society. Nysvenskar are Swedish by nationality but not by ethnicity. It's not a derogatory term at all. The term kulturberikare (culture enrichers) is almost exclusively used in a negative context, so that you need to watch out for. ;)
02:24 December 30, 2009 by maggieisthebest
And who are Swedish, ethnic Swedish? long long time ago, we had an ice age, no life was possible. Didn't they come from somewhere else? How can we proclaim they are swedish and those who are migrating now are not Swedish? Human life always keeps on moving we move, build our home and stay for a while then again the movement occurs. This is a shame on human psychology to claim my land and your land. We all live in one earth eveyone have equal rights to choose where they wanna move. Sometimes it makes me sick to see so many hatred among us.
02:39 December 30, 2009 by Kaethar
@maggieisthebest: ... Yeah, ok. Clearly we're not going to see eye to eye. But I'll repeat what I just wrote: "An ethnic Swede is someone who identifies solely as Swedish and places no relevance to any foreign roots they may have."

To make it very clear, an ethnic group is defined as:

"Those human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or because of memories of colonization and migration; this belief must be important for group formation; furthermore it does not matter whether an objective blood relationship exists."
08:26 December 30, 2009 by benomax
@markusd: You may be right but, that was why I said the law should be looked into by the international community, there are common criminal laws and there are also laws that abuse the rights of human beings. Since two countries are involved in this, they will definitely investigate and come out with the truth of the matter and, if they are innocent then they will not be charged but if otherwise they pay for their involvement in criminal activities.
09:25 December 30, 2009 by Rick Methven
The Iranian regime is under a lot of internal pressure from dissidents which it now claims are all agents of external powers. Yesterday the Iranian foreign minister promised "A slap in the mouth" To the UK if it did not stop criticising Iran.

Now, Iran that has never agreed to extradition of Iranians who have been accused of crimes outside of Iran, wants Sweden to send Swedish passport holders who have never been been charged with a crime in Sweden to face unnamed charges in Iran, a country that they have not been to for 20 years or more.

The only 'crime' that any of the 'accused' have committed is supporting human rights in Iran - from outside of Iran.

If Sweden gave in to this Interpol arrest warrant, it would open the door for the extradition of millions of people who have ever criticised Iran!!

What is actually more interesting is why Interpol ever issued the warrant in the first place. I suspect that it is the French saying to Iran, "See we are still your friend, even if the government goes along with the general EU anti Iran policy"

France (where Interpol HQ is) has a lot of vested interest in Iran.
12:07 December 30, 2009 by glamshek
@Iraniboy . Poor-simple Iranians? Simple Iranians have been fooled by the so-called Human rights slogans from the West. C'mon, If these MKO men have commited any crime in Iran, they can very well do it here too. Sweden should be watchful. Nowadays there is however a lot of criticism going against Iranian regime which I think is instigated by Oil-Hungry monsters. Why don't they criticise the support of Israel? Why no criticism of Bush who accepted the lies that he used as a pretext of war against Iraq, (so-called WMDs)? Have we forgotten it so early? What about holocaust? What about American Atom bomb in Japan.... What about US intervention in pre Islamic revolution in Iran? What about recent intervention by Britain and US in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan? the list is long dears.....
16:28 December 30, 2009 by Jarvilainennen
Hard choise? Ajatollah Ali Khamenei, the man in all but absolute power in the state of crazed islam = Iran, wants the swedish people to dance around like idiots for his behalf.

Do so if you want, but i think that in this case, in doing so you would be voting for a crazy old baboon trying to hold on to his seat with his dying strength.

I´d like to see that nut get nothing but contempt througout the world for this trick.

Ahmadinejad i would simply ignore, if the true leader of a country can´t step out to take heat, there´s something seriously wrong.

Iranian regime has allways blamed others. Now it blames Sweden. And no sign of self-blame, ever, lets all dance to them, shall we?
12:23 December 31, 2009 by WriterDirector
Only 10? Why not the whole lot of 'em? Send them all back. It's time to take out the Trash. I don't mean recycle, either : )
14:30 December 31, 2009 by Rick Methven
Only 10? Why not the whole lot of 'em? Send them all back. It's time to take out the Trash. I don't mean recycle, either : )

Where should we send trash like you back to ?
20:23 December 31, 2009 by WriterDirector
@ Dickhead Meth user

I can do this all day, Open W I D E : )
23:12 January 2, 2010 by amirhosein
@Kaethar: Thanks for the explanation. Now I feel better about it.

What I learned is that the worse term has been "blatte", meaning eternal outsider, and now New Swede is replacing it. Fairly better than before. Yet, I have to admit that it sounds offensive to me. And linguistically speaking, it has a negative feeling into it.

I'm sure you can come up with a better euphemism. A neuter term, if not a positive one - i.e. Swede National vs. Swede by Ethnicity.
20:24 January 4, 2010 by MollyMoppett
Poor lads. I remember when we were sympathetic to Kurds. Never called them terroritsts in those days. They were oppressed.

Some muppet up the list said something like, "send em back cos they has broken the law" or something equally as witty. Hello!! They'll be put to death! You from Texas or something?? :)
17:21 January 5, 2010 by Michael84
I dislike the Iranian regime as much as their people do. Now though Interpol decided these guys are dangerous so they must have done something, like i know there is a group called "Jundallah=Brigade of God"which is sheltered by Pakistan and is fed by some hardcore Muslims . These guys occasionally cross the border kidnap or shoot people, then if Iran regime asks the Interpol for help, that would be considered wrong ?! get real despite the cruelty of that regime towards their oppositions party, they still wanna keep their country clean of chaos.
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