“It feels fantastic, wonderful! I’m still in shock and need to come to grips with what has happened,” the children’s mother told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
The children’s father, Osama Al Hasane, brought his two children, 5-year-old Ali and 7-year-old Amina, to a police station in the Norrmalm neighbourhood of Stockholm on Wednesday following negotiations with the police.
The children were in good health and were quickly reunited with their mother who was waiting at the police station.
“They are physically unharmed, they probably haven’t been treated badly,” police spokesperson Petra Sjölander told the TT news agency.
Al Hasane was interrogated by police, but later released. However, he remains under investigation for arbitrary conduct with a child, an offence with a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
According to Sjölander, police were in contact with Al Hasane throughout the day on Wednesday. He eventually came to the police station at 7pm.
“The children are happy and feel fine, but naturally they have many questions. Now we’re just going to spend time with each other and take it easy,” their mother told Aftonbladet.
Police won’t divulge where Al Hasane and his children have been since he escaped with them from the Junibacken museum in Stockholm on October 9th.
Al Hasane and the children’s mother have been battling over custody of the children since separating from one another in 2007. In May, their mother was awarded full custody on a temporary basis. Al Hasane was only allowed to see the children during limited, supervised visits.
Speaking with the Expressen newspaper, Al Hasane explained that there was had no malicious intent behind his actions and that the decision to take them toward the end of a supervised visit was an impulse decision.
“I’m not a monster,” he told the newspaper.
“I just want to be near my children.”
He hoped the episode might lead to a change that would “allow my voice to be heard”. On a blog he has maintained since his wife was granted custody of the children, Al Hasane argues that he has been discriminated against because of his background in his efforts to maintain custody of his children.
According to Al Hasane, part of his ex-wife’s hesitation over letting him see his children in recent months is an unfounded fear that he would take them back to his home country, Iraq.
“I hope this shows that I’m not going to do that. I could have left with them, but I didn’t,” he said.