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Thursday, 14 February, 2002, 11:50 GMT
Sweden questions US terror charges
The United Nations in New York
Sweden is pushing the UN to review its sanctions procedures
Sweden is demanding hard evidence to back up US allegations that three Swedish nationals are linked to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Sweden insists that the need to take swift action against terrorism "must not entail any infringement of individual legal rights".

It has urged the United Nations to review the current freeze on the three suspects' assets demanded by Washington.

The US authorities have not provided any information that could be incriminating for my clients

Leif Silbersky
The issue has placed a strain on relations between the US and Sweden.

"Sanctions against individuals must be based on hard evidence and must be open to review," Foreign Minister Anna Lindh told parliament.

The lawyer for the three Swedish suspects told BBC News Online that no evidence had yet been put forward to back up the present allegations.

"The US authorities have not so far provided any information that could be incriminating for my clients," said Leif Silbersky.

Missing pieces

The latest misgivings over US terrorist allegations follow the release on bail of an Algerian pilot once described by Washington as the lead trainer of some of the 11 September hijackers.

Lotfi Raissi
The US failed to link Mr Raissi to terrorism
Lotfi Raissi, who had been imprisoned for five months, was released by a British court after the US conceded it could not link him to terrorism.

US authorities have handed over some 29 pages of material to the Swedish Government which they say links the three suspects, all of Somali descent, to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Their lawyers have been allowed to read all but five of the pages, which are still classified as secret by the Swedish Foreign Ministry.

"From what I understand from the Swedish Government, the five pages I have not seen do not contain anything that could take the case further," said Mr Leif.

Mr Leif is to travel to the US next week where he will meet with United Nations and government officials in an attempt to remove his clients' names from the UN sanctions list.

The Foreign Ministry says Sweden is pushing to change the way in which such sanctions lists are drawn up, in the hope of making the process more open and giving suspects a right of appeal.

See also:

09 Nov 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Sweden
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