Iraq's former defense minister arrested in Swedish airport for alleged benefits fraud

Iraq’s former defense minister, who holds dual Iraqi-Swedish citizenship, has been arrested in Sweden, authorities said Tuesday. He is suspected of illegally receiving benefits in the Scandinavian country.

Prosecutor Jens Nilsson told Swedish broadcaster SVT that Najah al-Shammari has been wanted for almost a year and a half. The prosecutor told broadcaster TV4 that al-Shammari was arrested on Monday at the Stockholm airport by upon arrival in Sweden.

Swedish media earlier have said that al-Shammari claimed child and housing support for years — despite living in Baghdad.

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In 2019, Swedish news agency TT said al-Shammari, is registered as living in a Stockholm suburb.

Iraqi Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari speaks on Oct. 23, 2019, in Baghdad, Iraq. The former defense minister, who holds dual Iraqi-Swedish citizenship, was arrested in Sweden, authorities said on Tuesday. He is suspected of illegally receiving benefits in the Scandinavian country. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban, File)

Swedish newspaper Expressen had reported that he moved to Sweden in 2011, received citizenship in 2015 and was reported to authorities, along with his wife, for suspected benefits fraud. He allegedly continued to claim social payments years after returning to Iraq.

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Sweden and its Nordic neighbors are known for providing generous social benefits.

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