Sweden: Fears of becoming a terrorist base

Last year the Swedish Security Service (Säkerhetspolisen - SÄPO) recommended that 65 people be prevented from either entering Sweden or remaining in the country on the grounds that they posed a security risk.

This was the highest annual total since the September 11th attacks in 2001.

The majority of suspects - 40 of whom were asylum seekers - were thought to have links to terrorist organizations, Svenska Dagbladet reports.

"There is almost never a suggestion of terrorist operations being carried out in Sweden, rather it is a case of people being involved in activities that support terrorism abroad," SÄPO's Lars Kronberg told the newspaper.

In most cases the Swedish Board of Migration and the government choose to act on SÄPO's recommendations and reject the applications in question.

But the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights has criticized SÄPO's methods, claiming that Sweden may be acting in breach of European and UN human rights conventions.

According to human rights lawyer Anna Wigenmark, those whose applications are rejected are not provided with sufficient legal protection, as much of the evidence against them remains classified.

"It doesn't take much for someone to be regarded as a security threat," she told Svenska Dagbladet.

While Lars Kronberg conceded that SÄPO required less evidence than it would for criminal cases, he added that the investigations on which the decisions were made were "very thorough"


Sweden's security service, Säpo, has warned that the country risks becoming a base for recruitment of terrorists. At least 20 Swedes have been arrested around the world on suspicion of terror offences since 2001.

"There is a risk of Sweden becoming a recruiting base for terrorists, and a base for the financing and planning of attacks in other countries," said Säpo's information director, Anders Thornberg, to Svenska Dagbladet.

The paper said that nearly all Swedes arrested had suspected links to Islamic extremists. So far, only two people have been convicted under the 2003 Swedish terror laws.

Source: The Local 1, 2 (English)

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