Swede deported over Colombia FARC links

TT/The Local/pvs
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A 54-year-old Swedish man has been deported from Venezuela to Colombia on suspicion of being the head of the FARC in Europe, according to a Reuters news agency report.


The Swede landed in Colombia in a police aircraft late on Monday night, according to Anders Jörle at the Swedish foreign ministry.

"We have had contact with the authorities in Bogota and something equating to a remand hearing is to be held on Tuesday, local time," he said.

"The embassy has staff in attendance at the hearing. There is a lawyer there as well, but that is not arranged by us, the man has been given a public attorney."

Sweden is following the case and the embassy in Bogota, which covers both Venezuela and Colombia, has contacted the Colombian authorities. The foreign ministry has to ensure that he is given due legal process, Jörle said.

"The Colombian authorities have been unusually cautious with details in this case. They would normally inform us about detained Swedes."

"We can not get involved in the actual case but we can demand consular access to the man in order to, among other things, provide him with legal help."

Relations between Venezuela and Colombia have been frosty for some years. Part of the reasons behind the conflict have been connected to the FARC guerilla.

The Colombian government has argued that Venezuela has allowed FARC forces to hide in its territory.

But in recent years the two ideologically opposed regimes in Bogota and Caracas have conducted a thaw in their relations since the election of a new president in Colombia last year - Juan Manuel Santos.

The deportation on Monday night was the result of a telephone call between Santos and his colleague Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Reuters reported. Santos asked Chavez to allow the arrest of the Swede.

The man is suspected of having financed the FARC's operations, according to the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.

The man flew from Stockholm to Venezuela via Frankfurt on Saturday.

Evidence in the form of hundreds of emails are reported to have been found in a computer which belonged to the rebel leader Raul Reyes, who was killed in Ecuador in 2008.

El Tiempo maintains that the Swede has been active in FARC for over 30 years, although relatives of the man deny these claims, according to Sveriges Radio's Ekot news programme.

The man became a Swedish citizen in 1995, having arrived in Sweden as a refugee a couple of years before. In Sweden he has had responsibility for a Colombian website.

Over the past ten years the man has made several visits to a number of FARC camps.


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