STOCKHOLM, Sweden (Kurdistan24) – A Swedish Peshmerga volunteer on Monday confirmed he was in fact kidnapped by the Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) and forced to refute the claims in a propaganda video.
According to a report by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Peshmerga volunteer Tony Ekman said he was abducted by the YBS, an armed group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Moreover, Ekman stated the group forced him to read a “script” to refute news he had been kidnapped.
On March 29, ANF released a video showing the Swedish volunteer denying claims of his kidnapping, calling it a “misunderstanding.”
“There has been some misunderstanding about this situation here by media back in Europe,” an uneasy-looking Ekman said in the recording.
A day earlier, a source from the PKK had informed Kurdistan24 the group was preparing a video where the volunteer would be pressured to deny accusations about his imprisonment.
“For a while, I was really worried,” Ekman told Aftonbladet. “I thought they would kill me.”
“They wanted me to say that I was there voluntarily,” he explained. “They gave me a script that I had to follow.”
The Swedish volunteer added the YBS were “afraid of negative publicity,” and this was what ultimately saved his life.
He managed to contact his brother who then informed local media in Sweden as well as the State Department.
Ekman, a 51-year-old Swedish citizen, had been in the Kurdistan Region to fight the Islamic State (IS) alongside the Peshmerga forces for over a year-and-a-half.
The volunteer had fought side-by-side with Kurdistan Region Peshmerga in the Kirkuk and Shingal areas, including the liberation of Shingal from IS in November 2015.
Due to recent friction between the YBS and Peshmerga forces, Ekman said he chose not to participate because he was in the area to fight IS insurgents only.
Editing by Gabrielle Renaud