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'Iran may be spying on exiles in Sweden': agency

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10:14 CET+01:00
Iran has both the ability and the inclination to keep tabs on political antagonists in Sweden, according to new guidelines issued by the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket).

“They have both the ability and a strong interest in doing so,” Mikael Ribbenvik, legal expert at the Migration Board told news agency TT.

The Migration Board has now issued new guidelines on Iran, describing which groups are being persecuted and how the regime's surveillance of the opposition abroad should be considered when exiled Iranians' asylum claims are decided upon.

The new guidelines reflect the Migration Board's assessment, after liaising with Sweden's Security Services, Säpo, that the regime in Tehran puts “considerable resources” into mapping out the activities of those opposing the government, even if they became politically active outside of Iran.

"Things have deteriorated in Iran in recent years in the wake of the 2009 election. The regime has also shown a growing concern over witnessing several governments in the Middle East and Northern Africa fall,” said Ribbenvik.

The hard line shown by Iran has meant that more refugees have been granted asylum in Sweden.

However, the Migration Board has been under fire after refusing to grant asylum to an Iranian man in September, despite the fact that he has been openly politically active while in Sweden.

According to the court, his activity had been on too low a level and the court never considered whether his activities could be known to the Iranian government.

The new guidelines from the Migration Board will replace information issued as late as July, which were never considered in the case of the politically active Iranian asylum seeker.

According to the agency, the court instead based its decision on British intelligence on Iran from last year.

What the new guidelines on the one hand, and the court's decision on the other, will mean for asylum seekers from Iran, Ribbenvik wouldn't speculate.

“In many cases, the information we have about the country is crucial in these matters. However, it isn't possible to anticipate these cases in advance or say who will get to stay and who won't, or if there will be more allowed to stay or less,” he said.

Attempts by The Local to reach the Iranian embassy in Stockholm for comment on Monday were unsuccessful.

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