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Sweden seeks clarity on FARC suspect arrest

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08:06 CEST+02:00
Sweden has demanded an explanation from Venezuela as to why it was not informed about the arrest of one its nationals suspected of links to the FARC rebels or his extradition to Colombia.

"Sweden has asked Venezuela to explain why Swedish authorities were not informed when they arrested a Swedish citizen and extradited him to Colombia," Swedish foreign ministry spokesman Teo Zetterman told AFP, adding a diplomatic note had been sent Tuesday.

"We have not yet received an answer," he said.

Colombian-born Joaquin Perez Becerra, 55, who reportedly came to Sweden nearly 20 years ago as a political refugee, was arrested upon his arrival in Venezuela on Saturday on suspicion he was a member of the Marxist rebel group FARC.

Becerra, who had flown to Caracas from Frankfurt and was extradited to Colombia on Monday, reportedly runs ANNCOL, or New Colombia News Agency, a website critical of the Colombian regime and considered by Bogota to be closely linked to FARC.

Zetterman meanwhile said it remained unclear "what he has officially been accused of."

"We are concentrating on providing him with consular support... The Swedish embassy has been in contact with him and is following the case and has been in touch with his legal representation," he added.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has accused Becerra of being the "head of the international front of the FARC in Europe," insisting he had been wanted "for a long time" by Colombian authorities.

Interior Minister German Vargas meanwhile told reporters this week that Becerra "is not a Swedish citizen," but a Colombian "travelling under another identity and with a Swedish passport," insisting he could be tried in Colombia without any constraints.

Zetterman however told AFP Wednesday that Becerra had been granted Swedish

citizenship in 2000, insisting Sweden should have been informed about his arrest and extradition.

"There are cases where the person arrested does not want local authorities to contact the authorities in their home country," he acknowledged, adding "but in this case it was fairly clear that they should have contacted us."

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