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Sweden rejects China's request to extradite former official

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – 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.

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 (£8.8 million).

Sweden arrested Qiao in June last year. Last month he was released from custody without a ruling on the Chinese request, then re-arrested days later on a separate request from the United States, where he has been indicted for money laundering and immigration fraud.

On Monday, China’s foreign ministry had reiterated that it wanted Sweden to send Qiao back to China.

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.

The European Convention and Swedish law both prevent authorities from extraditing people to countries where they would face political or religious persecution, torture or the death penalty.

($1 = 9.4678 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Esha Vaish and Helena Soderpalm in Stockholm and Ben Blanchard in Beijing)

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