Sweden on Monday approved the extradition of a man to Turkey who has previously expressed support for the PKK, a Kurdish militant group Turkey, the US, and the EU consider a terrorist organization.
Turkey has refused to approve Sweden’s NATO bid over the Nordic country’s alleged support for the PKK and has been pushing for Stockholm to approve the extradition of suspected associates of the group.
The 35-year-old man, whose name hasn’t been released, is a Turkish citizen who was convicted in Turkey on a drug charge and served over four years in prison. He moved to Sweden when he was released on parole and was arrested last August at Turkey’s request, and now his extradition has been approved.
According to AFP, the man thinks the real reason for his extradition is not the drug charge but his links to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey and because he’s previously shown support for the PKK.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials have made clear that they are seeking the extradition of suspected PKK members from Sweden as a condition for approving Stockholm’s NATO bid.
Sweden has also passed a new anti-terror law in an effort to placate Turkey, which criminalizes “participation in a terrorist organization.” The law and Turkey’s efforts to target Kurds in Sweden sparked anti-NATO demonstrations that took place in Stockholm earlier this month.
Now that Erdogan has secured a victory in Turkey’s recent presidential elections, the US and NATO appear to be stepping up their efforts to get Ankara to let Stockholm join NATO. Sweden is eager to join the alliance and is allowing the deployment of NATO troops on its territory before gaining its membership, which is said to be a message to Russia.