Mid-November, two Swedish citizens with Somali origins were renditioned from Djibouti to a prison in the United States of America.
According to the US, they are hardened terrorists. According to other people, they tried to leave the terrorist-branded organization al-Shabaab. What’s true there is unclear. But that’s not the point that makes us interested in the story.
An representative of United States Intelligence Services is reported to have told the two Swedes that “We’re waiting for permission from Swedish authorities to take you to the United States”. This is something that the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs first didn’t want to be associated with, and later declines any and all forms of comment.
Here, we have a natural and special interest, as the two men are Swedish citizens. Are they suspected of committing an act which carries criminal penalties in Sweden – and if so, should they not be indicted and prosecuted in Sweden? Or has the Swedish government given the USA a carte blanche to “take care of” two Swedish citizens in the name of the war on terror – and if so, on what grounds? (Further, the suspicions concern acts committed in Somalia, where the US doesn’t have jurisdiction.)
Suspicions of terror or not – the process of law must be respected, and international law followed. The government has no right to throw people into dark dungeons without a proper trial. We have a right to demand some form of damn order here.
This affair has a distinct image of not having respected due process. This image is further strengthened by the fact that the two Swedes’ lawyers and relatives were kept in the dark for several weeks about what had already happened.
If Sweden has agreed to rendition two people – Swedish citizens or not – to the United States of America within the context of what’s known as extraordinary renditions, this affair goes far beyond the questions about the formal due process. In such a case, it’s necessary to ask how much the Swedish governments’ promises are worth, when they promise to not extradite people to countries where they risk torture or death. This is a question that’s current and relevant in other cases, for example, regarding the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
This affair smells really bad…
UPDATE: The lawyer of the two Swedes was informed of the rendition on December 7, about three weeks after the fact. When the lawyer was informed, and only then, were relatives informed. This has eerie similarities with banana-republic “disappearances”.
This article was originally published in Swedish on Hax’ blog. Translated into English by Rick Falkvinge.