Swedish appeals court upholds conviction, overturns extradition in PKK funding case

Activists of the "Alliance against NATO" network carry flags with the logo of Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK, that is designated as a terrorist organization among others by Turkey, during a demonstration for freedom of speech and association, in support of democratic forces in Turkey and against Swedish NATO membership, on June 4, 2023 in Stockholm, Sweden. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Stockholm city centre to demonstrate against Sweden's NATO bid and new anti-terror legislation, despite Ankara's objections. (Photo by Maja SUSLIN / TT News Agency / AFP) / Sweden OUT

A Swedish appeals court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of Yahya Güngör, who was accused of attempting to financially support the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), while overturning the initial verdict on his extradition to Turkey following his sentence, Turkish Minute reported on Wednesday, citing Reuters.

Güngör, a Turkish Kurd, was sentenced in July by a lower court to four and a half years in prison for weapons crimes, attempted extortion and financing terrorism. The sentence came amid Turkey’s demands of Sweden on terrorism in return for ratification of Sweden’s application for membership in NATO.

The Swedish court upheld the district court’s verdict that found Göngör guilty of forcing a Kurdish businessman in Stockholm to fund the PKK. The group has been classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community. This case was a historic event since it was the first in which an individual was sentenced to prison in Sweden for raising money for the PKK. Despite upholding the prison sentence, the appeals court vacated the deportation directive.

In December 2022 Sweden had extradited Mahmut Tat to Turkey, where he faced imprisonment for PKK membership. The decision, executed by Swedish migration and judicial authorities — not the government — sparked criticism, including disapproval from Tat’s former lawyer in Sweden, who raised concerns about its implications for Swedish democracy and human rights.

A Turkish court subsequently sent him to prison to serve a six-year sentence on conviction of membership in the PKK.

He had fled to Sweden in 2015, but Stockholm rejected his asylum request.

Sweden has recently taken legislative steps to address Turkey’s concerns, including the introduction of a bill criminalizing membership in terrorist organizations. This move is seen as part of the efforts to appease Ankara to facilitate Sweden’s NATO bid. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan conveyed his intention to present Sweden’s application to parliament this fall, expecting further counterterrorism actions from Stockholm in return.

Sweden, along with Finland, initiated the NATO membership process last year, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Finnish membership was approved in April.

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