STOCKHOLM: Sweden has decided not to extradite a man wanted by Beijing on suspicion of having embezzled millions of dollars due to the risk that the former Chinese official would face persecution, a Swedish court said on Tuesday (Jul 9).
The Swedish Supreme Court said on Tuesday it had made the assessment that there was a risk that Qiao would be subjected to persecution because of his political activity and treated in violation of the European Convention.
"Under these conditions, extradition cannot take place," the court said in its statement.
Court documents seen by Reuters showed that Qiao stated that he had fled from China in 2011 after coming under pressure for joining a banned political party.
China had asked Sweden to extradite Qiao Jianjun, who also goes under the name of Feng Li, on suspicion of breach of trust and fraud relating to the embezzlement of the equivalent of around 100 million Swedish crowns (US$11 million).
He has also been charged with money laundering and immigration fraud in the United States, which is also seeking his extradition.
"Now we have a precedent, that the court has found that China's handling of the juridical system and human rights is appalling and cannot be accepted, at least not by a Swedish court," Henrik Olsson Lilja, Qiao's lawyer, told Reuters.
"China cannot appeal this decision. There will be no extradition from Sweden."
Qiao was arrested in June last year under the Chinese extradition request. He was released last month, then re-arrested days later under the US request.
The European Convention and Swedish law both bar authorities from extraditing people to countries where they would face political or religious persecution, torture or the death penalty.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that China hoped Sweden could "face squarely the facts of Qiao Jianjun's crimes" and extradite him back to China as soon as possible and avoid becoming a "haven for criminals".
China paid great attention to the protection of human rights, especially those of criminal suspects, Geng told a daily news briefing.
China has already had extradited back to it more than 260 suspects from European, Asian, African and Latin American countries, which shows the international community's confidence in its legal system, he added.
"I again urge Sweden to acknowledge China's demands," Geng said.
Lilja said the US case remained open, with the United States having until Aug 2 to say why it wants Qiao extradited.
Qiao has been living in Sweden since 2013 and applied for asylum in March. A decision is pending.