Sweden, on Monday (June 12) agreed to the extradition of a man convicted of drug trafficking and a self-proclaimed supporter of the pro-Kurdish PKK. This also comes ahead of a meeting with Turkish and Swedish officials over the stalled NATO bid. Earlier this month, Sweden even agreed to establish temporary NATO bases on its soil before becoming a member of the military alliance.
Who is the man being extradited to Turkey?
The Swedish Justice Ministry official Ashraf Ahmed told AFP, that the government has granted “an extradition from Sweden regarding a 35-year-old Turkish citizen.” This also comes after the Supreme Court, earlier this year cleared the individual’s repatriation to Turkey, where he is also expected to serve the rest of his drug trafficking sentence.
The man, whose extradition was approved, had been sentenced in 2014 to four years and seven months in a Turkish prison for transporting a bag of cannabis. However, he was later released on parole and moved to Sweden, but was again reported arrested last year after a request from Turkish prosecutors.
The convicted drug trafficker who has not been named has since opposed the move and claimed that the real reason that Turkey wants him back is due to his links to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and for having shown support for the PKK, reported AFP.
Notably, the news agency cited the court ruling against the man which noted that when asked the Turkish prosecutors if he was involved in any ongoing probes or charges linked to a “terrorist organisation” or “insulting the Turkish president,” the authorities from Ankara had denied.
How is this related to Sweden’s NATO bid?
Turkey has stalled Sweden’s NATO bid for months now while accusing the country of being a haven for “terrorists.” This was also in reference to the members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a group which has now been banned by Turkey.
Additionally, Ankara has asked Stockholm to crack down on extremist groups and return dozens of people Turkey believes were involved in a failed 2016 coup and the decades-long Kurdish fight for an independent state.
Earlier this year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they wouldn’t support Sweden for NATO membership this was after the Quran-burning incident in the Scandinavian nation.
The incident in question took place in January when right-wing politician Rasmus Paludan, staged an event reportedly gave an hour-long speech against Islam and immigration and subsequently set fire to Islam’s holy book, Quran, outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.
The move had drawn strong condemnation from Ankara. Notably, Turkey, at the time was also facing pressure from NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg to give up its opposition to Sweden’s bid to become a member of the military alliance.
The ratification of any nation to join NATO requires a unanimous vote while Sweden’s bid has been blocked by Turkey and Hungary. Sweden and Finland applied last year to join NATO as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and while Helsinki’s bid was accepted back in April Stockholm continues to struggle.
NATO to establish bases in Sweden?
There is a chance that NATO will set up bases in Sweden before the country is even a part of the alliance, “The government has decided that the Swedish Armed Forces may undertake preparations with NATO and NATO countries to enable future joint operations,” said Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Defence Minister Pal Jonson, last week.
Source: Wio News