Turkish authorities have expanded the list of people, the majority of them political dissidents, whose extradition is demanded from Sweden, increasing the number from 33 to 42, Turkish Minute reported, citing Radio Sweden.
Sweden and Finland broke with decades of military non-alignment and applied to join NATO in response to Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine. Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO members yet to ratify the Nordic neighbors’ applications.
Turkey has accused Finland and Sweden, in particular, of providing a safe haven for outlawed Kurdish groups it deems “terrorists” as well as some political dissidents and has refrained from ratifying their NATO bids despite an agreement in Madrid in June.
According to Radio Sweden, the Turkish government’s list of people whose extradition is demanded from Sweden includes 16 alleged members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), 12 people with alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement and seven people from leftist groups in addition to seven people who are accused of such crimes as smuggling.
Designated as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, the PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of Dec. 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.
Earlier this week, Sweden’s Supreme Court refused to extradite Turkish journalist in exile Bülent Keneş, saying that some of the accusations against him weren’t crimes in Sweden, which along with the political nature of the case and his refugee status, made extradition impossible.
Keneş, the former editor-in-chief of the now-closed English language Today’s Zaman daily, who Turkey accuses of being involved in a 2016 attempt to topple Erdoğan, is the only person the president has identified by name among dozens of people Ankara wants extradited in exchange for approving Sweden’s NATO membership.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Thursday told his visiting Swedish counterpart Tobias Billstrom that they weren’t ignoring the positive steps taken by Sweden but that more was needed to win Ankara’s full backing for its stalled NATO membership bid.