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Sweden rejects Chinese embezzlement extradition request
[STOCKHOLM] Sweden's Supreme Court said Tuesday it was refusing the extradition of a Chinese man accused of economic crimes because the man risks persecution and the death penalty in China.
Qiao Jianjun, a former official of the Chinese state grain administration who has lived mainly in the United States since 2011, is wanted by Beijing as part of a sweeping government campaign against corruption.
He is accused of having embezzled over 200 million yuan (S$39.4 million), according to documents from Chinese authorities provided to Sweden.
Qiao Jianjun contests the accusations against him and claims he has been in Beijing's sights since joining the "China Democracy Party" in 2010.
"He denies the crimes and is only being hunted by Chinese authorities because they think he isn't faithful to the (Communist) party," his lawyer, Henrik Olsson Lilja, told AFP.
The Swedish top court said that there was a "real risk" that the accused could be sentenced to death, and assurances otherwise by Chinese authorities could not be given enough weight to justify extradition.
"The Supreme Court makes the assessment that there is a risk that he will be subjected to persecution because of his political activity and that he will be subjected to treatment in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights," Justice Petter Asp said in a statement.
"Under these conditions, extradition cannot take place," he added.
Qiao Jianjun was arrested and detained in Sweden in June 2018 at the request of China.
He was released on 19 June 2019 only to be again arrested a week later in another case, this time at the behest of the US, where authorities suspect him of money laundering in 2015.
Sweden has given the US until August 2 to submit a more detailed account of the crimes he is suspected of before it decides on a potential extradition.
The Swedish government officially makes the final decision on extradition matters, but it is obliged to follow the Supreme Court's rulings.