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Innocent 'terrorist' demands compensation from Sweden

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Innocent 'terrorist' demands compensation from Sweden
A photo distributed by police at the time. Photo: Police
07:41 CET+01:00
An Iraqi man who was wrongly accused of plotting a terror attack in Sweden is demanding one million kronor in compensation after he was briefly arrested last year following a high-profile manhunt.

Moder Mothanna Magid was freed without charge and cleared of all suspicions related to terrorism in November, three days after Sweden's Säpo security police arrested him in a raid on the asylum accommodation where he had been staying in Boliden, northern Sweden. 

The 22-year-old, who later told Swedish media he had no hard feelings towards the police following his wrongful arrest, is now asking for one million kronor ($116,700) in damages from the state.

“He was suspected of particularly serious crimes. But above all he has suffered mass media [attention], because he was portrayed as a terrorist and had his name and picture published,” his lawyer, Peter Ataseven, told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

In Sweden, people who have been wrongfully held in custody have the right to ask for compensation from the state, whether or not it is believed that errors were committed by police during the investigation.

However, the payouts are usually not as large as a million kronor. A similarly high-profile case was a 35-year-old man who was falsely accused of killing Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh in 2003. He was awarded 150,000 kronor after details about his personal life was published in papers around the country.

But Ataseven said his client had suffered far greater damage.

“It is clearly hard for him to have been portrayed in media as a terrorist. He is trying to fight his way back to everyday life and take things as they come.”

“Wherever he goes people know who he is. (…) He is in a difficult situation.”

Magid's name and picture were published by newspapers and broadcasters across Sweden in November after police launched a massive manhunt for a "suspected terrorist", raising the national terror threat level to 'high'.

However, after he was arrested and then quickly released, the 22-year-old said he was not angry for being wrongly accused by authorities and appeared in interviews with several Swedish news media.

On Friday he spoke to regional newspaper Norran about his decision to claim compensation from the Swedish state.

"Everything that has happened has put me in danger. Everyone knows what has happened to me and everyone recognizes me. Sometimes I feel fine and sometimes I get scared," he said.

Magid was offered help by Säpo to relocate to a different location in Sweden to avoid the publicity, but declined, saying he wanted to return to his friends in Boliden.

And in December he brought a smile to many people's faces after throwing a big nationwide party on social media and at the asylum accommodation in his northern Swedish village in a bid to wipe the slate clean and extend a hand of friendship between Swedes and recent arrivals.

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