Swedish government approves extradition of PKK supporter to Turkey
Justice Ministry Spokesperson Ashraf Ahmed says the government has agreed to "grant an extradition from Sweden regarding a 35-year-old Turkish citizen."
For the first time since Ankara blocked Stockholm's NATO ambition, Sweden agreed on Monday to extradite a man who had been convicted of drug trafficking and backing the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to Turkey.
Turkey has repeatedly accused Sweden of being a sanctuary for "terrorists", particularly PKK militants, and has requested the extradition of numerous individuals.
According to Justice Ministry Spokesperson Ashraf Ahmed, the government has agreed to "grant an extradition from Sweden regarding a 35-year-old Turkish citizen," adding that Turkey wants him to complete a drug trafficking sentence.
Sweden's Supreme Court greenlights extradition of man to Turkey: Media
Earlier, Sweden's Supreme Court gave its approval for the government to extradite a man accused of supporting the PKK to Turkey, a key demand by Ankara to ratify Stockholm's stalled NATO membership, media reported on Tuesday.
The ruling means that it was now up to Sweden's government to decide on whether to extradite the man, the newspaper Aftonbladet reported, adding that he would be the first PKK supporter to be extradited by Sweden to Turkey.
In Sweden, the government makes the final decision on extradition requests but cannot grant a request to another state if the Supreme Court rules against it.
According to Aftonbladet, the court reached the decision last week and comes just as the two countries are due to discuss Sweden's stalled NATO application after the re-election of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The 35-year-old man was sentenced in 2014 to four years and seven months in a Turkish prison for transporting a bag containing cannabis, the newspaper indicated.
He was released on parole and moved to Sweden but was arrested in August last year following a request from Turkish prosecutors who want him to serve the rest of his sentence.
The newspaper pointed out that the man claims the real reason he is being sought by Turkish authorities is due to his affiliation with the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and for having shown support for the PKK, a group blacklisted by Ankara.
According to Aftonbladet, the court noted in its decision that it had asked the Turkish prosecutor if there were ongoing investigations or charges against the man regarding "propagating for a terrorist organization" or "insulting the Turkish president," which the prosecutor denied.
Background data about Turkey and Sweden
Following the outbreak of the Ukraine war, Sweden and Finland both submitted applications to join NATO last year. However, their bids for accession require the unanimous approval of all 30 NATO member states to be considered. Hungary and Turkey are the only countries that have not yet approved the applications.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned following the events that the relations with the Nordic country have reached a new low.
Ankara condemned the incident and announced that it will not support Sweden in its NATO bid, while its [Turkey's] position on Finland might be different if it applies to the coalition alone.
This promised “rapid accession” was unexpectedly stalled due to Ankara’s position, amid strained relations between Ankara and Sweden due to several incidents that cast doubt on Sweden's chances of gaining Turkey's approval.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on January 23 that Ankara may decide to make a "different" decision on Finland's bid for NATO membership - as opposed to that of Sweden's - that would inevitably "shock" Sweden.
As diplomatic tensions between Sweden and Turkey reached an all-time high, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto stated on January 24 that Finland could consider joining NATO without Sweden.
Then on April 4, Finland officially joined the NATO alliance, making its 31st member after nearly a year-long wait of overcoming Turkey's objections.
A ceremony was broadcasted on the NATO website on Tuesday during which Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto handed over the document on the country's accession to NATO.
On May 30, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Oslo on the eve of a NATO foreign ministers meeting that it is "absolutely possible" to decide on Sweden's NATO membership before the alliance's summit scheduled to take place on 11-12 July 2023.
Although there are no guarantees, "it's absolutely possible to reach a solution and enable the decision on full membership for Sweden by then," he said.
"We don't have any certainty. Of course, we are speaking about sovereign decisions by national parliaments," he said, adding that there was "a window now especially after the Turkish elections and with a Turkish parliament being constituted."