A Swedish court heard today that the TV journalist; Fredrik Onnevall tried to smuggle the Syrian boy as a migrant to Sweden, and given him a suspended sentence.
In 2014, Mr Onnevall was filming a documentary about White Nationalist parties in Europe, when they met “Abed” (not his real name) who looked liked he was exhausted. Onnevall claimed him and two other colleagues found him skinny, malnourished, tired and living on a string.
The teenager was alone, travelling and trying to make his way to immigrate to a European country. Abed was fleeing war, and once he met Onnevall, he was recording the documentary, and asked Abed if he needed help getting to Sweden. He joined the team
Asked whether Onnevall regretted the decision; he replied,
“It took 10 to 15 minutes maybe for me to get that question into my head, and to understand what he was asking me and to make up my mind,” the 43-year-old journalist told AFP in an interview last month in the southern Swedish town of Malmö just prior to the start of his trial.
“Everything became more clear when it came down to that very question: ‘What decision will I be able to live with in the future for myself?’” he said.
Önnevall’s lawyers had called for an acquittal on the grounds that he acted out of compassion and concern for the boy’s fate.
But the Malmö district court found him guilty on Thursday of smuggling and gave him a suspended sentence and ordered him to complete 75 hours of community service.
While the court noted the SVT team had acted for purely humanitarian reasons, it said “jurisprudence leaves little scope to acquit someone for that reason”.
The journalist said he would appeal against the ruling.
“This is no surprise because I was prepared for all scenarios,” he told AFP.
“The district court is only the first legal step and I hope the appeals court will come to a different conclusion,” he added.
His two colleagues, a cameraman and an interpreter, received the same sentence.
Since 2015 – when the number of asylum applications in Sweden soared (from 80,000 in 2014 to 160,000 in 2015), requiring the country to halt its generous refugee policy – the number of cases of people helping illegal immigrants come to Sweden has rocketed.