Sweden kidnapped my friend
Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, anakata, was arrested in his Riverside Phnom Penh apartment late August. I was personally at Cadillac bar located on the ground floor of the same building where Gottfrid lived. I have visited him on several occasions since after I moved to Phnom Penh in January. It was nothing unusual for Kenny, Gottfrid’s friend and landlord working at Cadillac bar, to ask me if I would be going up to see him. This time was the first time that I went to Cadillac bar being alone and not visiting Gottfrid. Perhaps I chose not to because what they call gut feel. I don’t remember feeling anything strange, but for the very first time I decided not to drop by.
The very next day I had caught a bad fever and called in sick to work. I didn’t hear about the news until Saturday when a friend of mine called asking what I knew. I was still laying sick in bed, but as soon as I heard what had happened I went down to Cadillac bar to try and figure out what was going on.
When I reached Cadillac I immediately understood that I had been told the truth. Kenny would usually greet me with an enthusiastic smile upon my arrival. This time he sat pale white at the bar and didn’t even turn around to look at me when saying hello. The bar was however more crowded than I expected and I figured that it was probably for the best to not bother asking any questions. I finished my pasta dish, paid the note and said good bye to Kenny’s back before heading back home.
A mutual friend of mine and Gottfrid, who was in contact with his mother, spoke to me a couple of days later and asked me to speak to Kenny so we could organize something and also stream information between here and there more efficiently to keep Gottfrid’s parents updated. We cleared the trust issues and started talking.
I learned that Kenny was actually the best friend of Gottfrid available at this time. From the moment that Gottfrid was detained Kenny would go to the Ministry of Interior’s Counter Terrorism department on a daily basis to ensure that Gottfrid would meet a friendly face. He would bring food, soda and books. Everyday Kenny came and asked Gottfrid if he had been told anything, been asked questions or been visited by someone. Gottfrid was only visited the first day of arrival by the Swedish embassy but they never asked anything or told him his rights or really what was going on.
At this point in time the news had already hit the global mainstream press. Gottfrid’s Swedish lawyer, Ola Salomonsson, had no idea what was going on. Initially the Cambodian authorities said that Gottfrid had been detained due to breaking local laws and that after he had been detained they realized that he was internationally wanted by Interpol. The underlaying tone was that he had been found merely by coincidence. Later it turned out that they had arrested him in connection to his visa expiring.
The day after Kenny received the verification that I was OK to speak with, 5th September, he brought me to visit him at the Ministry of Interior. I left my phone in the office due to paranoia and when we arrived and I saw the big sign on the building with a Khmer sentence translated to “Counter Terrorism Department” I immediately understood that this was something bigger than an expired visa. Even though his passport had been revoked when he became internationally wanted by Interpol, Gottfrid still had a valid visa until the day of his arrest.
We entered the building and were put in a room with three huge CRT monitors connected to one desktop PC each facing the wall on the opposite side of the room. We were ordered to place the meals that we brought with us on a table with the plastic bag containing canned Fanta. The officers took no interest in the books that we brought for him. We were then told that we may go into the hallway again and continue into the room where Gottfrid was held. The door was already open and there were approximately 8 officers present and additional ones lurking in the shadows around the hallway. Kenny went in first and I followed. When Gottfrid saw me he immediately looked from officer to officer in what seemed like an attempt to figure out if there was something special related to my presence. I came in muttering “so this is where the terrorists hold the antiterrorist”.
The room looked like a classical classroom with lined up benches. Gottfrid was sitting at the front, where a teacher would stand in a school environment, in a tree chair woven tilted allowing him to lay with his back in 45 degrees and his legs in 90. He was sitting upright with his legs crossed wearing the blanket. The officers weren’t freezing but Gottfrid was obviously not enjoying the forced air condition. The second we started to speak Swedish with each other all officers but one left the room. A few minutes later they rushed back in and told us that we only had five minutes more. We headed out and passed the guard at the gate a $1 bill.
The following day when Kenny returned with all the regularities he was denied entrance. The officers at the Ministry of Interior said to him that Gottfrid had been transported to the Swedish embassy. We called the Swedish embassy who did not pick up the phone. We called the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs who hung up in our ears. Later the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Gottfrid’s mother over the phone, when she specifically asked for it, that he was in the ministry.
At this point Gottfrid still hadn’t been reached by Ola Salomonsson and Gottfrid was never offered a lawyer by the Swedish embassy. Swedish authorities told Swedish press that Gottfrid was being extradited because he was wanted by Interpol to serve his one year sentence which he was convicted to in The Pirate Bay trial. The Swedish authorities lied through their teeth. Gottfrid wasn’t being extradited, he was being deported under the Cambodian immigration law. But people that are deported can choose where to be sent and also leave the country by their own free will. Deported people also have the right to fight the decision in Cambodian court. Of course Gottfrid was never informed about this by the Swedish embassy. They also forgot to inform Gottfrids Swedish lawyer.
Suddenly we became very stressed about the whole situation. Gottfrid needed to know that he had the right to a Cambodian attorney and to fight in court and he also had to be informed that it was up to him to demand to. The Swedish embassy never told him this, as later confirmed by Anne Höglund: the ambassador who signed the $60 USM aid deal.
I went to the Swedish embassy in Phnom Penh on the10th floor in the Phnom Penh Tower. I felt really helpless and didn’t know what to do. I felt desperate to have a face to direct my questions and frustration towards. Since the information that we had available indicated that he was captured in the same embassy that refused him his rights my initial idea was to go there and pass him my message as loudly as I possibly could through the walls.
I reached the reception who asked me why I was present. I told them I was there as a friend of Gottfrid’s uninformed parents and soon enough I met Anne Höglund. I found her quite rude for never inviting me to any form of office room or something, instead she had me standing in the reception asking her questions. She told me the opposite of that we had heard from the Cambodian Ministry of Interior and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Gottfrid had never been there. I explained in a very serious tone that this was a matter of human rights, that he hasn’t been convicted for anything but The Pirate Bay and that it is their job to do what they had not done.
We were interrupted by around 6 people that came into the embassy to speak to Anne Höglund. I let her know that our discussion was not over even though she didn’t assign another agent to handle my complaint and Tom Abrahamsson had coincidentally went on vacation to Sihanoukville this particular day. Gottfrid’s mother was informed that Tom, the Head of Adm and Consular Matters, was the person that had visited Gottfrid. He didn’t leave the country or so, he just travelled four hours out of the city but was entirely impossible to contact.
I left the embassy and came back with Gottfrid’s mother’s Cambodian legal representative: Mr. Sok Sam Oeun. Sok Sam Oeun is currently the Executive Director at the Cambodian Defenders Project. In 1995 he won the Award of Defenders of the Year presented by California Defender Association and in 2002 he won the International Human Right Awards presented by the American Bar Association. He has over 20 years of experience in human rights and is also an expert on the international relationship between Sweden and Cambodia. He was early to be quoted in some articles regarding Gottfrid’s deportation. I brought him with me back to the Swedish embassy.
When we arrived they were obviously tired of me already. Unluckily for them I am a Swedish citizen and thus they can not deny speaking to me. And this time I also brought my backup: Mr. Sok Sam Oeun. I went through the process of informing the reception about what I wanted. At one point the Khmer receptionist picked up a phone and pointed at another one on my side of the protective glass. I picked it up and heard him say something, but figured it was a too long sentence to be for me. He shouted at me asking if it worked. I shook my head. He pointed at one on the opposite side of the desk. I picked it up and he asked me again if it worked. No luck. He pressed some extra buttons which I figured was actually required to connect to the proper phone on the line and I picked it up. The receptionist stared deeply into my eyes and said “you’re here regarding Gottfrid, right?”. I told him that was correct. Without blinking and still staring at me he then proceeded by asking “the fool that got arrested, right?”. I was in a bad position to throw a fight over his wording and simply confirmed once again. “I will ask for permission and then we will see.”
Before 10 minutes passed Anne Höglund came into the waiting room. “Oh, it’s you again”, she muttered in Swedish, clearly unhappy over me. “Yes”, I said, “but this time I brought backup”, and presented her Mr. Sok Sam Oeun. I said that since this was a very high profile case we must make sure that everything is legally correct, and of course that Gottfrid’s parents was very worried. When Sok Sam Oeun spoke to Anne Höglund and asked her questions she quickly fell into absolute defense mode. She crossed her arms and her every movement increased in speed. She was very stressed. She continued to say all sorts of truly absurd things such as “he does not need a lawyer” and that they had done everything they have to do. I deceptively nodded and it seemed like she considered Sok Sam Oeun to be the bad guy and me to be the good guy in the situation. She was subconsciously looking for me to agree with her and I met her with a confirming face conforming her to continue her lies.
Anne told us that in “every normal case” the Swedish embassy would provide the suspect a list of attorneys from where they could freely pick their defense. I told her that it was absolutely irrelevant how they handle normal cases because if it was a normal case then Gottfrid wouldn’t be held by counter terrorists over an expired visa. An expired visa in Cambodia usually doesn’t generate more problems than having to pay a fine when leaving the country.
She denied that Gottfrid had ever been in the embassy and said that this idea was absurd. She got stuck in a loop, I think she repeated her nervous “no” at least a dozen times before asking “who said that?”. Apparently we needed to speak to the Cambodian authorities because this was a police issue. Anne said it was an issue handled to a 100 % by the police and that the embassy had no interest in this. “Even if he has disappeared?”, Sok Sam Oeun asked her. I told her that right now we have a situation where the Ministry of Interior, Gottfrid’s last known location, said that Gottfrid was in the embassy and the embassy is saying that they don’t know where he is. I never told her that we had also heard the same information independently from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that the information that Anne was giving us was the exact opposite of that. Anne stood her ground: she didn’t know anything, didn’t understand why we were at the embassy and was not willing to cooperate with us in an attempt to figure out Gottfrid’s whereabouts. She made herself entirely unavailable to us so we parted.
According to Cambodian law Gottfrid’s parents’ attorney has the same right to speak to Gottfrid as Gottfrid’s own attorney, if he would’ve had one. Anne obviously either forgot or ignored this and she was never interested in respecting Sok Sam Oeun’s authority. The way the case unfolded it is very obvious that the Swedish embassy lied to us, tried to convince us that Gottfrid was not in need of a lawyer and denied his fundamental human rights both in Sweden and in Cambodia. Gottfrid’s mother got similar information from the authorities in Sweden. She was told that the process of deportation would not be a juridical process as such and thus no lawyer would be involved. Anne wanted to convince us into believing that Gottfrid was detained because of his invalid visa. Either Anne Höglund is entirely incompetent or she tried misleading us and denied us our rights because she knew that we had the legal possibility to take the matter to court and possibly have Gottfrid sent to another country other than Sweden, since he was after all being deported and not extradited. Perhaps Anne is an incompetent liar who fails to understand why someone that is locked up by counter terrorists needs access to a lawyer whether he’s charged for a crime or not.
After the coincidence with the $60 USM aid package granted by Sweden to Cambodia was settled Anders Jörle, spokesperson for the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told media that the connection between Gottfrid and the money was “ridiculously farfetched” and that nobody sentenced to one year in prison is worth that amount of money. Of course he never told the press exactly where Gottfrid was locked up in Phnom Penh or that parts of the case for what he is being kidnapped for is classed secret by the Swedish Ministry of Justice. He also forgot that somebody that has been openly involved in both The Pirate Bay and WikiLeaks might be worth it. Everything around Gottfrid must truly just be a big coincidence. We’re just waiting for them to stop shaking and cross their arms and show us exactly how they’ve acted correct according to current national and international laws before we can truly believe it. Until these things are cleared out and proven to be correct I’m going to refer to this incident as the event where Sweden illegally kidnapped by far the most intelligent person I have ever learned to know.
Until this day neither Gottfrid’s Swedish attorney or his mother’s Cambodian attorney has been able to contact Gottfrid.
We miss you, Gottfrid