Sweden to extradite self-proclaimed PKK supporter to Turkey

A 35-year-old drugs offender was sent to Turkey as part of Sweden's attempt to restore its Nato membership

Activists carry flags with the logo of Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK in Stockholm. AFP
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Sweden has agreed to extradite a man convicted of drug trafficking, who also supported the pro-Kurdish PKK, to Turkey.

The move is a first for the nation after Stockholm's Nato membership bid was blocked by Ankara.

Turkey accused Sweden of being a haven for “terrorists,” especially members of the PKK, and has asked Stockholm to return dozens of people.

The government has decided to “grant an extradition from Sweden regarding a 35-year-old Turkish citizen,” Swedish justice ministry official Ashraf Ahmed told AFP.

The decision comes after the Supreme Court in May cleared his repatriation to Turkey, where he is expected to serve a drug trafficking sentence.

Turkey wants Sweden to crack down on extremist groups and send back dozens of suspects Ankara believes are linked to a failed 2016 coup and a decades-long Kurdish fight for an independent state.

Sweden's foreign ministry said officials from the two countries are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss their stalled Nato application.

Turkey's long-serving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won re-election in May.

The man, whose extradition was cleared, was sentenced in 2014 to four years and seven months in a Turkish prison for transporting a bag containing cannabis, according to the Swedish Supreme Court ruling.

He was released on parole and moved to Sweden, but was arrested in August last year following a request from Turkish prosecutors.

The man opposed the move, claiming the real reason he was sought by Turkish authorities was his links to the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party and for showing support for the PKK or Kurdistan Workers' Party, a group blacklisted by Ankara.

In its ruling, the court noted it had asked the Turkish prosecutor if there were continuing probes or charges linked to a “terrorist organisation” or “insulting the Turkish president”, which authorities denied.

Turkey and Hungary are the only Nato member states yet to ratify Sweden's bid which requires unanimous ratification.

Ending two centuries of neutrality and military non-alignment, Sweden and neighbouring Finland announced bids to join Nato in May 2022, three months after Russia invaded Ukraine.

While Sweden's bid still faces opposition, Finland managed to become the 31st member of Nato on April 4.

Updated: June 12, 2023, 3:00 PM