Sweden jails Turkish citizen over attempted ‘terrorist financing’ for PKK

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (L) hold a press conference following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara on November 8, 2022. Adem ALTAN / AFP

A Swedish court on Thursday found a Turkish citizen guilty of “attempted terrorist financing” for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a first in the Scandinavian country seeking Ankara’s approval to join NATO, Agence France-Presse reported.

The man, described by the court as a Kurdish man with roots in Turkey, was also found guilty of attempted aggravated extortion and a firearms offense, the Stockholm district court said in a statement.

It added that the man, in his 40s, would be given a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence, and that he would be deported upon his release.

He was arrested in January after making threats and firing a gun outside a restaurant in Stockholm.

“The district court sentences a Kurdish man of Turkish origin for attempting to extort a Kurdish businessman in Stockholm at gunpoint to pay money to the PKK,” judge Mans Wigen said in a statement.

“The attempted extortion took place within the framework of an extensive fundraising program conducted by the PKK in Europe, including through extortion,” Wigen said.

According to the court, the investigation had found that the goal of the extortion attempt was for a plaintiff to “hand over money to the PKK.”

İlhan Aydın, the man’s lawyer, told AFP his client would appeal the verdict.

“He is disappointed with the outcome, and we do not share the district court’s judgement, particularly in the areas of terrorist financing and attempted aggravated extortion,” Aydın said.

Turkey, which is blocking Sweden’s NATO bid, has accused the Scandinavian country of being a haven for “terrorists,” especially members of the PKK, and has asked Stockholm to extradite dozens of people.

Sweden tightened its anti-terrorism legislation in July of last year, making it easier to prosecute financing activities for terrorist organizations.

This is the first time that the new law, already used in cases linked to the Islamic State organization, has been used against an alleged PKK supporter.

Ending two centuries of neutrality and military non-alignment, Sweden and neighboring Finland announced bids to join NATO last May after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO member states that have yet to ratify Sweden’s bid, which requires unanimous approval.

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