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‘I do this for money’: Swedish politician arrested on suspicion of smuggling migrants

Rashad Alasaad, who represented the ruling Social Democrat party in the town of Ljungby in Kronoberg County, has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling migrants.

On Wednesday, about ten policemen in plain clothes entered Alasaad’s home and arrested him, the newspaper Expressen reported.

“The person has been taken for questioning and was subsequently arrested. The suspicion is human trafficking”, police spokesman Ewa-Gun Westford said.

Earlier, Expressen revealed that Syrian-born Rashad Alasaad, who entered the local council following the 2018 elections, offered to smuggle people into Sweden in exchange for money.

During a meeting with an Expressen reporter in the Greek port city of Chania on the island of Crete, which was filmed with a hidden camera, he joked about having already smuggled large numbers of people into the country. After the disclosure, the border police launched a preliminary investigation into human trafficking.

When confronted with photo evidence, Alasaad admitted to a “price list” for smuggling that featured SEK 20,000 ($2,120) per child and SEK 30,000 ($3,180) per adult.

According to Expressen, Alasaad ran Facebook ads under a false name, offering to smuggle migrants from Greece to Sweden with the help of borrowed passports.

“Only those who are in Greece. Syrian passports with Swedish residence permits for sale. Only for those who look like passport holders”, he reportedly wrote on Facebook.

Rashad Alasaad said he made his own way to Sweden using the smugglers’ route from Istanbul at the end of 2013. By his own admission, he “helped” many fellow migrants find their way to Sweden without specifying how many.

“Yes, I’ve got my whole family out. I’ve got a lot of people out. It is not difficult at all”, Rashad Alasaad told Expressen.

“Let me tell you why I do it. To be honest with you, the main reason is money. I want money”, Alasaad concluded.

In the spring of 2018, when Alasaad entered the Social Democrats’ ballot, local chairman Magnus Carlsson described it as “a good mix of young people and people from other cultures”.

Following the revelation, he stepped down from office. Rashad Alasaad previously worked for several government agencies, including the Social Insurance Office, the Swedish Tax Agency, and the State Pension Fund.