Sweden has agreed to extradite a Turkish citizen convicted of credit card fraud to Türkiye, but authorities said the extradition is part of a routine matter and Ankara awaits the extradition of terrorists.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has threatened to block both Sweden and Finland from NATO membership unless they meet several demands, including the extradition of terrorists.
The man facing extradition was identified in Swedish court documents as Okan Kale, and was convicted in Türkiye of credit card fraud in 2013 and 2016.
He sought asylum in Sweden in 2011 but his request was denied. He was granted refugee status in Italy in 2014.
Kale’s name features on a list published in Turkish media of people that Ankara wants to be extradited from Sweden.
“This is a normal routine matter. The person in question is a Turkish citizen and convicted of fraud offenses in Turkey in 2013 and 2016,” Minister of Justice Morgan Johansson told Reuters in a text message.
“The Supreme Court has examined the issue as usual and concluded that there are no obstacles to extradition,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice declined to say if the man was on the list of people Turkey has demanded to have extradited or to provide further comment on the matter.
Swedish broadcaster SVT, the first to report on the extradition, said the man was sentenced in Turkey to 14 years in prison on several accounts of bank card fraud.
It noted that Ankara had sought his extradition in 2021 – long before Stockholm’s application to join the North Atlantic alliance in May.
“This is a regular, routine matter,” Justice Ministry spokesperson Angelica Vallgren told AFP. “The extradition request was received last year.”
Kale has been held in Swedish custody since December 2021.
In an agreement signed by Sweden and Finland at a NATO summit in Madrid in late June, the two countries agreed to examine Turkish extradition requests “expeditiously and thoroughly.”
Both of the Nordic countries rejected the extradition of 19 terrorists and did not respond to Turkey’s request for five others.
The extradition process for nine terrorists, including two in Finland and seven in Sweden, is still ongoing.
Turkey had voiced reservations about the membership of Sweden and Finland, saying that the two countries have been acting as safe havens for terrorist organizations, including the PKK and its Syrian wing, the YPG.
Turkey has not shut the door on Sweden and Finland joining NATO and is willing to negotiate with the countries if they agree to clamp down on domestic terrorist activities and end their support of the PKK.