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Swedish journalist to face trial over smuggling Syrian boy

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Swedish journalist to face trial over smuggling Syrian boy
SVT journalist Fredrik Önnevall. Photo: Wikicommons
07:23 CET+01:00
A Swedish TV journalist is to face trial over human smuggling after helping a Syrian boy migrate from Greece to the Nordic nation, an offence punishable by imprisonment, a legal source said Thursday.

In the spring of 2014, Fredrik Önnevall was filming a documentary about European nationalist parties' response to the migration crisis when he met the 15-year-old Abed in Greece. Along with two colleagues, Önnevall helped Abed enter Sweden.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said on Wednesday that Önnevall and his colleagues had "during the period of May-June 2014 intentionally helped a foreigner pass through Greece...(to) Sweden despite the fact that the person was missing a passport or any other permission required to enter these countries."

The journalist, a programme host for the Swedish public broadcaster SVT, who along with his two colleagues could face up to three months in prison, has pleaded not guilty.

"I regret absolutely nothing! I know what we did and I would have done the same today," Önnevall told SVT in March when he was called for questioning over human smuggling.

"How can I regret helping a terrified boy begging for my help?" he said.

Broadcast nearly two years ago, the documentary sparked a wave of sympathy among Swedes as well as anger, prompting complaints over the Syrian boy's entrance to Sweden.

"(He) was a 15-year-old boy in danger and in need of help," Önnevall told SVT on Thursday.

"The prosecutor clearly does not make this judgement, but the legal experts I have spoken to say this doesn't constitute a crime," he added.

But Kristina Amilon, a prosecutor in charge of the case told AFP that "just helping someone cross a border into a European country" is constituted as illegal immigration and therefore an offence.

"I had no excuse to not do it, no one else could help him. I also realized that it was a decision I would have to live with for the rest of my life," Önnevall told Swedish daily newspaper Expressen last year.

Önnevall has asserted that he did not act as a smuggler because neither he nor his colleagues accepted any money.

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