Sweden agrees to extradite one man to Turkey in Nato talks

Sweden agreed to extradite Turkish citizen if he is granted retrial on his return

From left, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson at an international donors' conference in Belgium for Turkish and Syrian victims of this year's earthquakes, on March 20. EPA
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Sweden has agreed to extradite a Turkish citizen wanted by Ankara, but it rejected another request as extraditions continue to be one of Turkey's key demands to ratify Stockholm's Nato membership.

Turkey believes Sweden is a safe haven for dozens of suspects it says are linked to a failed 2016 coup attempt and a decades-long Kurdish fight for an independent state.

Ankara has used this as a reason to hold back on ratifying Sweden's Nato application.

Sweden's Justice Ministry said it agreed to the extradition of Omer Altun, 29, who was sentenced last year by a Turkish court to 15 years in prison for "what in Sweden would be the equivalent of fraud".

The ministry said the extradition was agreed to on the condition that Altun would be granted a retrial on his return to Turkey.

The decision, a copy of which was obtained by AFP and was dated March 30, came after Sweden's Supreme Court gave approval for the extradition.

"The government shares the Supreme Court's assessment that there is nothing blocking the extradition of Omer Altun to Turkey," it said.

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Stockholm has repeatedly stressed that its judiciary is independent and has the final say in extraditions.

The government rejected an extradition request for Mehmet Karayel, 51, a Swedish citizen Ankara suspects of being a member of an "armed terrorist organisation", according to documents from the Swedish Justice Ministry.

Under Swedish law, "a Swedish citizen cannot be extradited", it wrote.

Sweden has extradited at least two Turkish citizens in the past year but rejected requests for others, including the former editor-in-chief of the Zaman daily, who Turkey accuses of being involved in a 2016 attempt to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Sweden and Finland abandoned their long-standing policies of military non-alliance and applied to join Nato after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

After months of delay, Ankara ratified Finland's membership last month, enabling it to become a full member of the defence alliance this week.

Updated: April 06, 2023, 7:27 PM