Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday said the decision by Sweden’s Supreme Court to block the extradition of an exiled Turkish journalist is a “very negative” development.
Turkey is seeking extraditions from Sweden as a requirement for the country to join NATO. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan singled out journalist Bulent Kenes as someone who Sweden needs to extradite as a condition for Ankara approving Sweden’s NATO bid.
Kenes is accused of being involved in a 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan, but the exiled journalist denies the allegations and calls them “fabricated.” Sweden’s top court ruled against the extradition because some of the allegations against Kenes are not crimes in Sweden, and the court said he could be persecuted for political beliefs.
In a statement on the Swedish decision, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, “We cannot speculate on what possible impact this will have on the NATO accession.” The statement added that Stockholm “has to follow Swedish and international law when it comes to questions of extradition, which is also made clear in the trilateral agreement.”
Under the trilateral agreement Turkey signed with Sweden and Finland back in June, the Nordic countries agreed to respond to Ankara’s extradition requests but didn’t explicitly say they would fulfill each one.
Turkey is also seeking the extradition of suspected members of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a militant group considered a terrorist organization by Ankara, the EU, and the US. Earlier this month, Stockholm approved the extradition of a Kurdish man who sought asylum in Sweden after being convicted in Turkey of alleged ties to the PKK.