Sweden rejects request for extradition of Chinese embezzlement

BRUSSELS: The Swedish High Court on Tuesday rejected a request for Beijing's extradition for a Chinese economic crime due to the risks of persecution and the death penalty in China.

Qiao Jianjun, a former official of China's state grain administration, is wanted by Beijing in a broad-based anti-corruption government campaign.

He is accused of embezzling more than 200 million yuan ($ 29 million or 26 million euros), according to documents from the Chinese authorities provided to Sweden.

Qiao challenges the accusations against him and says he has been in Beijing's sights since joining the China Democracy Party in 2010.

He denies the crimes and is only being persecuted by the Chinese authorities because they believe he is not faithful to the (communist) party, his lawyer, Henrik Olsson Lilja, told AFP.

The Swedish High Court said that there was a real risk that the defendants could be sentenced to death, and that the Chinese authorities could not give enough importance to justify the extradition.

The Supreme Court assesses that there is a risk that it will be prosecuted due to its political activity and that it will be subjected to treatment in violation of the European Convention, Judge Petter Asp said in a statement.

Under these conditions, extradition can not be carried out, he added.

The Swedish government officially takes the final decision on matters of extradition, but is bound to follow the decisions of the Supreme Court.

During a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated an earlier statement that China expects Sweden to face the facts of Qiao Jianjun's crime and not become a safe haven. safe for criminals.

China attaches great importance to the protection and promotion of human rights, Geng added.

Qiao was arrested and originally detained in Sweden in June 2018 at the request of China.

He was released on June 19, 2019 only to be arrested again a week later in another case, this time at the behest of the United States. UU., Whose authorities suspect it. money laundering in 2015

Sweden has given EE. UU Until August 2 to present a more detailed report of the suspected crimes before deciding on a possible extradition.

According to court documents, Qiao began traveling between China and the United States after obtaining a United States visa in 2009.

He decided to leave China permanently in 2011 after joining the China Democracy Party and moved to the United States with his family.

Later he moved to Austria and then to Sweden in 2014 together with his new wife, who is an Austrian citizen.

The couple has a two-year-old son, which according to his lawyer has made his detention unbearable.

This has been a nightmarish year for him, said Olsson Lilja.

In March of this year, Qiao applied for asylum in Sweden, but the Swedish authorities have not yet made a decision.

Diplomatic relations between China and Sweden have been affected by a series of incidents in recent years.

The two countries, for example, have been at odds with the arrest of Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen of Chinese descent known for publishing gossipy titles about Chinese political leaders in a Hong Kong bookstore.

In 2018, a video showing the Swedish police withdrawing three Chinese tourists from a hotel in Stockholm, which the Chinese embassy described as brutal abuse of the officers, was posted online.

The row intensified when Swedish comedian Jesper Ronndahl produced a satirical video of information for Chinese tourists and posted it on the Chinese social media site.

The outrage, instead of laughter, came and China's Foreign Ministry called the video an insult and a cruel attack on China and the Chinese people.