Korean Peninsula tensions
North Korean soldiers are seen on a boat on the banks of the Yalu River, near the North Korean town of Sinuiju. The asylum seeker claims that if deported to China, he will be sent back to North Korea where he could be executed. Jacky Chen/Reuters

The Swedish government will deport to China an asylum seeker who claims he fled North Korea.

The immigration board intends to deport the 17-year-old boy -- whose identity has not been revealed -- after it ruled last year that there was not enough evidence to back his claim that he is North Korean.

The asylum seeker, however, warned that if deported to China he will be immediately sent on to North Korea where he will face torture or even execution.

According to Swedish radio broadcaster Sveriges Radio (SR) – which launched an independent investigation into the case -- one of the reasons why the government rejected the man's asylum request was because authorities were unable to find the name of the country the boy said he was from.

Defence lawyers, however, said the name of the place was misspelled during interviews with the asylum seeker.

Furthermore, a Korea expert hired by the immigration board to assess the dialect spoken by the boy confirmed he was from North Korea.

However, the company, Sprakab, which employs the expert published a report claiming the dialect spoken by the boy does not fit with his account of growing up in North Korea's northern districts.

The expert, who has not been named, reacted with outrage to the report.

"I never said that he didn't come from North Korea," she said. "What they [the company] are saying is wrong. It's ridiculous."

Kristina Sandklef, a China analyst who is advising the boy's lawyers, warned that the expert's comments on the way the teenager's Korean was often ungrammatical and included elements of other dialects picked up as a result of years living as a street child in North Korea should not be misinterpreted.

"You can't expect 'grammatically correct' for someone who's never been to school," she said.

One of the boy's lawyers confirmed that the place he mentioned does exist and there are testimonies of other North Korean refugees whose accent is similar his client's.

"It's obvious that the migration board didn't have the expertise required to take a decision in this matter," Arido Degavro said.

The asylum seeker claimed he smuggled himself from North Korea to Sweden via the Siberian Express railway. He fled as authorities were rounding up homeless people before opening the area to tourists.

He told SR: "If I go back to North Korea, I will die."

On Tuesday (11 November) Russia and North Korea signed a new deportation agreement for illegal immigrants found in either country. According to the document, they will be interrogated and deported within 30 days.

Last February, China was condemned by the UN for "aiding and abetting crimes against humanity" by sending migrants and defectors back to North Korea, where there is "an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion" and where security forces "systematically employ violence and punishments that amount to gross human rights violations in order to create a climate of fear", the report said.

North Korea declined to participate in the panel's investigation, and said it "categorically and totally rejects" the findings.