A Swedish journalist, charged with human trafficking after helping a Syrian boy to migrate from Greece to Sweden, was found guilty on Thursday and handed a suspended sentence.
In 2014, Fredrik Onnevall was filming a documentary about the response of European nationalist parties to the migration crisis when he met the 15-year-old boy in Greece.
Along with two colleagues, Onnevall helped “Abed”, (not his real name), travel to Sweden.
Scrawny and exhausted, the teenager was travelling alone and asked Onnevall to help him get to Sweden to join his cousin.
“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 said in an interview last month in the southern Swedish town of Malmo 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.
Onnevall'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 Malmo district court found him guilty of human trafficking 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 the ruling.
“This is no surprise because I was prepared for all scenarios,” he said.
“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.