No entry for student suspected of jihadist ties

Shebab Islamist militants are suspected of carrying out bombing attacks in Kenya Keystone

The Swiss authorities are refusing to let back into Switzerland a Jordanian refugee who had been given asylum following his indictment by a Kenyan court for alleged links to Islamist rebels in Somalia, officials announced on Saturday.

This content was published on July 1, 2012 - 16:30
swissinfo.ch and agencies

“The Jordanian citizen ... arrested in Kenya, may not enter Swiss territory until further notice,” said the Swiss justice ministry in a statement.

“Clear evidence shows that he visited regions of Somalia where jihadist groups are involved in conflict (against the government). It also appears that he had contact with Islamist elements in Switzerland.”

The Federal Police Office (Fedpol) decided to stop the man from re-entering Switzerland on the basis of information supplied by the Federal Intelligence Service. This type of measure is aimed at guaranteeing Switzerland’s internal and external security, which could be threatened by terrorists, violent extremists or organised crime.

Around 150 entry bans are pronounced each year by Fedpol.

The 19-year-old student from the western city of Biel, who has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing, can appeal to the justice ministry against the temporary ban, and if turned down, take his case to the Federal Administrative Court. His Swiss lawyer has announced he will appeal.

Criminal activities?

He was arrested in May in Kenya and charged in Nairobi on June 6 of links to Islamist Shebab rebels, more specifically of "engaging in organised criminal activities by being a member of Al Shebab."

The al Qaeda-linked Shebab militants control large parts of southern Somalia, despite recent losses to African Union troops, government forces and Ethiopian soldiers.

The student was also charged with being in Kenya illegally. However the criminal charges were dropped after further investigations were inconclusive, and he was fined only for lacking the appropriate visa.

He now stands to lose his asylum status in Switzerland, since Swiss law states that this can be withdrawn if a refugee threatens or compromises national or international security. The Federal Migration Office (FMO) will now look at his case.

Still in Kenya, he has been placed under the protection of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The migration office will have to decide if he abused the conditions set out for asylum, but cannot say yet if this is the case.

In recent years, Switzerland has revoked the asylum status of between four and 29 individuals annually.

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