Sweden has granted permanent residency to a former Egyptian terror suspect who was deported from Sweden to his homeland by the CIA in 2001, and who said he was tortured as a result.
Acting Migration Board General Director Mikael Ribbenvik said the decision regarding 49-year old Ahmed Agiza was made around midday Wednesday, and that the board took into account an evaluation of Agiza by Sweden's security police, SAPO. He declined to give details of that evaluation.
In an exclusive telephone interview with Swedish tabloid Expressen, Agiza, who is in Egypt, said "at last, justice has won" and hailed Swedish authorities for the decision.
Agiza and fellow Egyptian Muhammed Alzery were handed over to U.S. agents at Bromma Airport in Stockholm and taken to Egypt in December 2001. Their capture followed the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and was part of a widely criticized program under former U.S. President George W. Bush's administration in which alleged terrorists were flown to countries that allowed harsh interrogation techniques.
The men claimed they were subjected to abuse, an account supported by human rights group Amnesty International. The rights group said the handover had taken place under "very degrading circumstances" and that the men were tortured while in Egyptian custody.
Alzery was released in 2003 without standing trial, while Agiza was convicted of planning to overthrow the Egyptian government and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was freed by Egyptian authorities last year.
The Swedish government has acknowledged blame for the circumstances of the deportation and that the men were tortured in Egypt. It has awarded them 3 million kronor ($433,000) each in compensation for circumstances related to their deportations.
Agiza's wife is a Swedish citizen. He told Expressen that it's been hard to miss seeing his children grow up and that he also suffers from health problems after his time in the Egyptian prison system.