• Sweden's news in English

Eritreans in Sweden targeted for extortion

23 Feb 2013, 10:10

Published: 23 Feb 2013 10:10 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The three suspects allegedly presented extortion demands from kidnappers in Egypt and told their victims that their relatives would be killed unless they paid huge sums for their release.

The threats persisted for weeks until the three were arrested earlier this week.

According to Krister Peterson, chief prosecutor at the International Public Prosecution Office, several similar crimes have been reported in Sweden in the past.

Eritreans in Sweden have claimed that hundreds of families in Sweden have been targeted by kidnappers operating in the Sinai desert in Egypt, reported news agency TT.

Many similar cases have also been reported in other countries, including Norway.

"There is a suspicion that Eritrean refugees have been kidnapped while fleeing the country and that people in Sweden have then been forced to pay for their release," said Peterson.

TT reported that at least seven Swedish Eritrean families were targeted last year by a high-ranking Eritrean military officer.

He reportedly kidnapped relatives of the families in Eritrea, brought them to the Sudanese border and then demanded that the families pay $7,000 within 24 hours or the relatives would be handed over to kidnappers in Egypt.

One woman told TT that her 16-year-old brother was abducted in Sudan a few months ago and brought to another group of kidnappers in Sinai.

"They called once every half hour while they were beating him and demanded $38,000...We had to pay to save his life", the woman said.

One month later, the kidnappers released the 16-year-old near the Israeli border. He is now being held in Israel and it is unclear what will happen to him next, according to the woman.

A 2012 United Nations report described how generals from the Eritrean army liaise with kidnappers in Sinai, earning millions from kidnappings, human trafficking, and arms trading.

"The criminal network smuggles Eritrean migrants and Eritrean weapons, often in the same vehicle," the UN report says.

Story continues below…

"Once they arrive in Sudan or Sinai the Eritrean migrants are taken hostage and are tortured, raped or killed, while their kidnappers demand on average between $30,000 and $40,000 in ransom, which is often negotiated with the help of Eritrean middlemen."

Investigators from the UN arrived in Sweden this week to gather testimonies from Swedish Eritreans. They are also interested in how Eritrea continues to collect taxes from Eritreans living in exile, often through intimidation and blackmail.

The UN has enforced sanctions against Eritrea because of the country's support for armed groups in the Horn of Africa, including the terrorist-labelled al-Shabaab in Somalia.

TT/The Local/nr Follow The Local on Twitter

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Here's how slow Sweden's high-speed trains are getting
A Swedish SJX2000 high speed train. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The high-speed rail journey between the three biggest Swedish cities is about to get longer.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

US election
Donald Trump won't get new Ericsson head's vote
Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The new Swedish-American boss of telecoms giant Ericsson has revealed he will not vote for the Republican nominee in the forthcoming US presidential election.

Swedes named fourth most gender equal in the world
A file photo of men and women pushing prams in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden has closed 81 percent of its overall gender gap according to the World Economic Forum.

Sweden: Russian warships in the Baltic 'worrying'
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark.

Why businesses are worried about Sweden's drone ban
A drone filming in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country.

This is the new top boss of Swedish Ericsson
Börje Ekholm. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

Telecoms giant Ericsson has appointed a new CEO after a turbulent year for the company.

These are Sweden's best universities: ranking
A new university ranking has been released. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

At least according to this global ranking, which picks 12 Swedish universities among the top-1000.

Swedish pharmacies restrict paracetamol sales for teens
The move is intended to cut paracetamol overdoses. Photo: Nora Lorek/TT

Sweden's pharmacies are banning teens under 18 from buying more than one pack of pills at a time.

Rwandan genocide suspect held in Sweden
A memorial centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

A man has been arrested in Sweden suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide which claimed 800,000 lives.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available