World Bulletin / News Desk
Three members of a Swedish news team were convicted of people smuggling on Thursday after they snuck a teenage Syrian boy into the country.
The Sveriges Television (SVT) crew -- one reporter, one photographer and one interpreter -- was given a suspended sentence including 75 hours of community service by Malmo district court.
The court heard the team met the 15-year-old Syrian boy named Abed in Greece in 2014 while filming a documentary.
When featured in the documentary, the boy asked the news team on-camera to bring him with them to Sweden.
The journalists changed their travel plans and took a ferry, train and bus back to Sweden, along with Abed and his illegal documents.
Upon arrival in Sweden, Abed stayed with one of the news team for a night before being reunited with some of his family.
The EU directive which includes the possibility of a humanitarian exemption in matters of people smuggling was not applicable in this case, according to the Swedish court.
In a statement, the chief district court judge, Kristina Andersson, said: “It’s significant how imminent the refugee’s need for protection is at the time of arrival … In this case, the district court hasn’t deemed that the news team’s aid is covered by any humanitarian exemption.”
All three members of the TV crew denied the charges of people smuggling, which could have seen them jailed for up to three months.
One of the accused, SVT journalist Fredrik Onnevall, told Aftonbladet TV after hearing the verdict: “I don’t share the court’s opinion and we’ll lodge an appeal against the verdict. I don’t regret it and it was the most charitable thing to do.”