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Swede held for China cult links • Wednesday May 14, 2003

The Nation (Thailand), May 14, 2003

A Swedish housewife who is a follower of the Falungong religious sect has been detained by the police at the Immigration Department for the past two weeks without any charge, according to an informed source.

Pirjo Svensson, who is in her fifties, was arrested at her residence on April 29 in Bangkok by policemen because she possessed literature related to the Falungong, the religious sect outlawed by Chinese authorities.

The source, who asked not to be identified, said that the arrest was connected to last month’s visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who was in Bangkok to attend an Asean leaders’ summit meeting on the deadly virus Sars on April 29.

The Swedish Embassy has been following the issue closely and has urged the Thai government to free her as soon as possible, the source said.

The government had feared that Falungong followers would stage a demonstration at the Foreign Ministry and embarrass the Chinese leader, the source said.

The National Commission of Human Rights has written to the Thai government about the severity of the detention, saying it was a grave violation of human rights.

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