Sweden has agreed to extradite a man found guilty in Turkey of fraud, the first such decision since the Turkish government dropped its opposition to the country’s NATO membership bid.
Sweden’s centre-left government agreed to extradite the 35-year-old man, who was convicted of bank and credit card fraud in 2013 and 2016 and sentenced to 14 years in jail. His name appears on a list of 73 people Turkey wants expelling to allow Sweden to join NATO, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.
The Supreme Court examined the case and concluded there were no obstacles to extradition, Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said. “This is a normal, routine matter,” he said. The case was over a year old and predated the NATO agreement, his ministry said.
Turkey is demanding that Sweden and Finland extradite dozens of so-called terrorist suspects for trial, accusing them of harbouring or turning a blind eye to the individuals’ activities. Both countries say their courts are independent and make extradition decisions on a case-by-case basis grounded in national laws.
Sweden and Finland have had their NATO applications ratified by 23 of NATO’s 30 members in record time, the Financial Times said. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said his government will not hesitate in withholding ratification by parliament unless they adhere to the extradition deal, agreed on the side lines of a NATO summer in Madrid in late June.
Most of the people Turkey is demanding extradited are allegedly linked with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is an autonomy-seeking armed group recognised as terrorist by the European Union and the United States, and the religious movement of Fethullah Gulen, which Turkey says masterminded a failed military coup in 2016.
Turkey has yet to see concrete action from Sweden and Finland regarding the extraditions, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday. He said his government would hold a meeting with the NATO-hopefuls on Aug. 26.
Long known for their policies of military neutrality, Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO after Russia launched its war in Ukraine in February. Turkey was the only country among the alliance’s 30 members to object to their bids.
Unanimous approval of all NATO members is required for a country to join the alliance.
Sweden has already rejected extradition requests for 19 people included in a list of 33 published by the Turkish media, according to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.