Cablegate: Embassy Stockholm
DE RUEHSM #0722/01 3031517
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 291517Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM
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S E C R E T STOCKHOLM 000722
NEA/IPA FOR SARAH HANKINS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/27/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER PHUM MOPS KAWK KISL KPAO SW
REF: A. STATE 106853
B. 2007 STOCKHOLM 368
Classified By: POL Counselor Marc Koehler for reasons 1.4 (B) & (D).
1. (S) This is an action request. Please see para 7.
2. (S) Summary: The Swedish Migration Board (SMB) appears interested in learning more about Detainee 049 based on comments made in an October 27 meeting with Emboffs. A "formal" written request is more effective within the Swedish bureaucracy, according to SMB, and USG agencies should consider a direct approach to the Swedish Embassy in Washington, which is authorized to refer cases directly to the SMB. End Summary.
3. (S) POL Counselor delivered ref A demarche on October 14 to MFA Americas' Desk Officer Jemina Holmberg and MFA's Security Policy Division Director Nils Daag. Both pledged to brief the request up their chains as there would be "political interest" in such a case. Holmberg contacted us on October 15 and reported that we should also meet with the independent SMB, which would have primary responsibility for processing such a request.
4. (S) POL Counselor and Poloff met with the SMB's Chief of the Asylum and Refugee Unit Oscar Ekblad and Senior Refugee Quota Coordinator Ruben Ahlvin to deliver ref A demarche on October 27. Ekblad responded that the SMB is bound by law to accept references only from the UNHCR or Swedish embassies, although in "extremely special" cases, the Government could direct the independent SMB to consider a specific request. (Comment: Despite MFA interlocutors telling us in the past that it would be "difficult" to intervene "politically" with the work of the SMB, as in ref B, Ekblad explicitly noted that possibility. Accordingly, we will look for an opportunity to raise the matter again at senior levels with the Government. End comment.) On his way out the door, Ekblad pointedly reiterated that a Swedish embassy overseas was authorized to submit a request to the SMB, and in response to a question, he affirmed that the Swedish Embassy in Washington could directly refer a request for a Guantanamo detainee.
5. (S) Ekblad also stated that he would report our demarche on Detainee 049 to Carin Bratt, Deputy Director for Migration and Asylum Issues in the Ministry of Justice, during a meeting scheduled for October 28. He indicated that if this case were to "proceed," a follow-up face-to-face meeting between Emboffs and MoJ would most likely be necessary. He indicated that a "formal" request in writing would be more effective than past "informal" approaches related to other Guantanamo detainees. In that context, he asked for Post to obtain information, preferably in writing, about why Detainee 049 could not be returned to Gaza and what the risk of persecution would be for him there. While Ekblad stopped short of asking for additional information on the detainee himself pending the outcome of his meeting at MoJ, he stated that the Swedish Security Police, SAPO, would need such -- including any ties to political organizations -- to be able to run background checks.
6. (S) Ahlvin and Ekblad noted that Sweden has never accepted Guantanamo detainees before, and noted the "sensitive" case of Adil Hakimjan, an ethnic Uighur who had been resettled in Albania but applied for asylum in Sweden several months ago. Because he had already obtained residency in Albania, his application was denied in June and his appeal was denied this month. Nonetheless, there has been "public outcry" over the denial, which could "inform the environment" in which this request is received. Therefore, while the case of Detainee 049 will be considered in a "friendly environment," in light of the current situation, it could still be a "hard sell" that would need "political support," Ekblad said.
7. (S) Comment and Action Request: Ekblad indirectly but repeatedly suggested that Washington agencies request the Swedish Embassy to consider Detainee 049 for asylum in Sweden. Any such request should be "formal" and preferably in writing, he implied. He also asked for additional information, in written form, on the reasons for Detainee 049's fear of persecution in Gaza. -- Action request 1: Post suggests Washington agencies consider a direct approach to the Swedish mission in Washington regarding Detainee 049. -- Action request 2: Post requests Department provide additional information on risks of persecution Detainee 049 might face in Gaza. End Comment and Action Request. WOOD