Asylum and housing: Secret Service brought Syrian torture general to Austria

In Austria, the authorities were possibly hoping for some information from a high-ranking Syrian ex-officer, who is said to have quite a record.It is an unbelievable case, which the Internet portal Fass ohne Boden uncovered on Wednesday. One thing that may well be considered a state secret turned up in a file by the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) – and provides revealing insights into the work of the domestic secret services. According to the documents, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counter-Terrorism (BVT) helped to lure a war criminal into the country.The reason behind this was that it was hoped that the former general would provide “information on activities of the Syrian intelligence services in Austria”. However, one still had to get past the red tape in order to actually bring him into the country. To rent an apartment, one needed a bank account – and for this, in turn, one needed a certain asylum card. According to the ” Fass ohne Boden” the Office for the Protection of the Constitution gave him a little help. After all, the hoped-for insights would have “immense significance”.As an informant from diplomatic circles confirms, the former Syrian general entered Vienna with the help of a partner service and the BVT. However, due to the short time span, a little improvisation was necessary. And so the torturer general was hidden in a small apartment that belonged to the father-in-law of the head of counterintelligence.Not least thanks to the BVT assistance, the former general received his asylum status after only six months. In Austria he was then apparently given a new identity.Furthermore, an application for social welfare was filed – but under his real name. Several hundred euros in food money were thus received between October and December 2015 – although the partner service wanted to take care of all monetary matters.It soon turned out that the man known as Khaled H. was allegedly involved in human rights violations in Syria as an officer of the Syrian State Security. Proceedings in this regard are pending with the Vienna Public Prosecutor’s Office. Shortly thereafter, an NGO expressed concerns to the Ministry of Justice. However, these concerns were dismissed – and the cooperation was continued until 2018.And the accusations against the man are not exactly a trivial matter. As the head of a notorious department for state security, he is allegedly responsible for the “brutal suppression of demonstrations and rallies by members of the Syrian opposition.The general would even have been guilty of “active participation […] in suppressive measures”. According to an incident report, units under his command were subjected to “torture with electric shocks, rape and other psychological and sexual abuse.Even though the presumption of innocence applies to all parties involved, the case is strongly reminiscent of a current case in Germany. There, a former torture chief of the regime has to answer for alleged crimes against humanity. There, the accusation of involvement in the killing of 58 people and in more than 4,000 cases of torture has been raised. Neither, by the way, was a reason to deny asylum to the alleged defector to the opposition. On the contrary: without a detailed hearing, Anwar R. was granted asylum in Germany after only six days. There the Foreign Office was apparently involved in the easy way to come to Germany. He never delivered the promised information…

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