Don’t bother sending us ‘ordinary’ criminals, Turkey tells Sweden: report

Foreign Ministers of Sweden, Finland, and Turkey sign a memorandum of understanding in the Spanish capital Madrid - June 2022

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ announced that Turkey has no expectations from Sweden regarding the extradition of “ordinary” criminals, with the first committee meeting that will determine if the conditions Turkey put forward for the approval of NATO membership for Sweden and Finland have been met taking place in Helsinki on August 26, Nordic Monitor reported.

According to Levent Kenez’s story, the Swedish supreme court ruled on August 11 to extradite Turkish national Okan Kale, who was wanted under an INTERPOL Red Notice. According to reports in the Swedish media, Kale fled to Sweden in 2010 after he was accused of credit card fraud involving three banks in Turkey, and his application for asylum was rejected in June 2012.  After receiving temporary residence in Italy that enables visa-free travel between Schengen states, Kale came to Sweden and was granted permanent residence due to a fake marriage. Kale has been under arrest since October 2021.

 

Speaking with reporters after a youth meeting in Istanbul last week, Bozdağ said Turkey’s expectations concern terrorist crimes, adding, “We have no expectation of Sweden regarding the extradition of people accused of crimes other than terrorism.” According to the minister, as long as Turkey’s expectations on this issue are not met, Sweden and Finland will be deemed to have not fulfilled the promise they made to Turkey.

On June 28 Turkey, Finland, and Sweden during a NATO summit in Madrid signed a memorandum to address Turkey’s concerns, paving the way for Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership, which Turkey had previously announced it was against.

The Turkish justice minister had previously stated in an interview with the pro-government Milliyet daily that there was no problem among the three counties regarding the extradition of ordinary criminals. However, according to data obtained by Nordic Monitor, this information is not correct. Turkey has sent extradition requests for 17 ordinary criminals from Sweden since 2012, only three of whom were extradited. The legal process for two people is still under way. While Turkey is seeking the extradition of six criminals from Finland, so far only one person has been repatriated.

Meanwhile, Zinar Bozkurt, a 26-year-old Kurdish refugee who has been detained in Sweden’s Kållered Prison, announced that he had started a hunger strike after a Swedish court ruled for his deportation.

According to the stories in the Swedish media, Bozkurt’s asylum application was rejected in 2021; however, he did not leave Sweden and started to live there without papers. 

In an interview he gave to the Swedish media, Bozkurt stated that the court rejected his asylum application because Swedish Intelligence had sent an unfavorable report about his personal status.  

 Sweden continues to initiate legal proceedings against people on Turkey’s extradition request list. A person for whom Turkey seeks extradition because he was affiliated with the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, which the Erdoğan government has declared a “terrorist organization,” testified this week, Nordic Monitor has learned. 

Meanwhile, the Turkish and Swedish media reported that Turkey had withdrawn the list of people whose extradition was sought and updated it after it turned out that some of the people on the list were already in Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at the end of the NATO summit on June 30 that Sweden had made a “promise” to extradite “73 terrorists” and threatened to block NATO membership if the commitments were not met. Before this statement, there was only talk of the extradition of 33 people.

 

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