July 15. 2024. 7:12

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Sweden won’t extradite own citizen to Turkey amid NATO row

The government refused to extradite its citizen accused of terrorism by Ankara on Thursday, despite extradition being among Sweden’s earlier promises to overcome Turkey’s block of its NATO bid.

Sweden rejected Turkey’s extradition case from November targeting a man in his 50s who Ankara suspects of being a member of an “armed terrorist organisation”, citing his Swedish nationality as the reason.

Turkey has filed several extradition requests since Sweden applied for NATO membership last year, making them among the country’s key demands to approve Stockholm’s bid.

Sweden, Finland and Turkey signed a trilateral agreement during a NATO summit in Madrid last June, according to which Turkey agreed to open the NATO door to Sweden and Finland provided they fulfil certain conditions, including support against terrorism, arms exports and extradition.

As prospective NATO members, Sweden and Finland committed to supporting Turkey against threats to its national security, even after both countries joined NATO, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström declared earlier this month.

“It is permanent and will not be dismantled just because we become members”, he said at the time.

According to the agreement, Sweden and Finland will not support the Kurdish YPG/PYD or the Gülenist movement and will unequivocally condemn all terrorist organisations that carry out attacks against Turkey.

Sweden and Finland are also to process pending and unresolved extradition requests for persons whom Turkey classifies as terrorist suspects (often Kurdish opponents) “swiftly and thoroughly”.

Earlier in January, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson emphasised that Sweden has legislation concerning extraditions and that it is intent on enforcing it, meaning that whatever demands Turkey might have, Sweden will not extradite Swedish citizens, even if they are freshly naturalised.

Around the same time, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sweden and Finland would need to deport or extradite up to 130 “terrorists” to Turkey before the Turkish parliament would approve their bids to join NATO.

But Sweden’s refusal, coupled with problems of the burning of Qurans by a far-right politician in January, worsened relations between the two countries, with Turkish President Erdogan now demanding Sweden change its laws to make Quran burning illegal.

Besides Turkey’s approval, Sweden is also waiting for Hungary to give its greenlight, which according to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s political adviser, has been delayed by the ruling Fidesz party’s MPs because of Sweden’s “habit of questioning democracy in Hungary.”

(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)