China expels Swedish NGO worker for ‘anti-national activities’

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: Jan 26, 2016 18:02 IST
This undated photo at an undisclosed location provided to AFP by the 'Chinese Urgent Action Working Group' shows Swedish human rights activist Peter Dahlin. (AFP)

A detained Swedish non-profit worker accused of jeopardising China’s national security has been expelled from the country and is heading back home, reports said on Tuesday.

Peter Jesper Dahlin was put on a flight to Sweden after more than three weeks in detention, the Swedish embassy confirmed to media without giving details.

He was picked up early in January at the international airport.

China’s state-run television telecast a purported confession by Dahlin, 35, last week. He appeared remorseful in the telecast and expressed regret for his deeds.

“I violated Chinese law through my activities here, I’ve caused harm to the Chinese government, I have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. I apologise sincerely for this and I regret that this ever happened,” Dahlin said during the broadcast on China Central Television (CCTV).

The Swedish embassy issued a statement that expressed concern at the cases of Dahlin and another Swedish national, Gui Minhai.

“The embassy regrets to note the repeated denial of consular access to Mr Gui Minhai (a Honk Kong-based publisher) and we request renewed consular access to Mr Peter Dahlin. Many unanswered questions remain in both cases and we continue to request clarification of what our citizens are being accused of and the formal status of their arrests,” the statement said.

Dahlin was co-founder of the China Urgent Action Working Group (CUAWG), which described the confession as “apparently forced”, according to a report by the AP. The group also rejected accusations that it manufactured or escalated conflicts inside China.

“The group says it has been working since 2009 to help advance the rule of law by organising training programs by lawyers for rights defenders focusing on land rights and administrative law. It also releases practical guides on the Chinese legal system,” the AP report said.

State-run Xinhua news agency quoted the police as saying that the CUAWG “hired and trained others, who were called ‘lawyers’ and petitioners, to gather, distort, exaggerate and even fabricate negative information about China, providing the so-called ‘China’s human rights report’ to overseas organisations”.

Dahlin’s detention is being seen as part of Beijing’s widening crackdown on lawyers and rights activists. According to the BBC, more than 280 lawyers, associates and activists were detained last year.

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