RT, January 9, 2020
A Syrian-born Swedish politician has been arrested on suspicion of human trafficking after a damning hidden-camera interview published in October showed him bragging about smuggling people into the country for money.
Former Ljungby politician Rashad Alasaad, 27, was arrested by ten undercover police officers during a raid at his home on Wednesday morning.
“The person was taken for questioning and subsequently arrested. He is entitled to a public defender and that is being arranged,” said police spokesman Ewa-Gun Westford.
Swedish paper Expressen recorded Alasaad with a hidden camera joking about how he had smuggled several people into Sweden for money, after entering the country along the smuggling route from Turkey, and offering to help smuggle a child from Greece to Sweden.
“Yes, I got my whole family out. I got a lot of people out. It’s not difficult at all,” Alasaad said on camera. “Let me tell you why I’m doing it. To be honest, the main reason is money. I want money.”
Sweden’s Border Police launched an initial inquiry after the video was made public. He initially denied the allegations but when confronted about a suspected price list, 20,000 Swedish krona (approximately €1,900) per child and 30,000 krona (€2,860) per adult, Alasaad admitted the list was authentic.
He also reportedly ran Facebook ads under a fake name offering to smuggle migrants from Greece to Sweden using borrowed passports.
“Only those who are in Greece. Syrian passports with Swedish residence permit for sale. Only for those who look like passport holders,” he allegedly wrote on Facebook, though he’d previously flatly denied the allegations.
Alasaad left office shortly after the video revelations came to light, having joined the local council after the 2018 elections, running with for the ruling Social Democratic party.
He reportedly also worked for Sweden’s social security and tax agencies, as well as for the state pension fund, before running for office in the local council.
The full extent of his alleged human trafficking, if any, has yet to be determined.