Monday, February 25, 2013

Eritreans in Sweden targeted for extortion

(Feb 25, 2103, Sweden)--Two men and one woman have been arrested in Stockholm on suspicion of blackmail and conspiring to commit murder in a case believed to be connected to the Eritrean regime's systematic oppression of Eritreans living in exile.

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. Read more from The Local Sweden's News In English »

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