Sweden said it will extradite a Turkish citizen convicted of credit card fraud, in the first extradition since Turkey threatened to freeze Stockholm’s NATO membership.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to block Sweden from NATO membership if it does not meet several demands [Getty]
Sweden’s government said Thursday it would hand over a Turkish citizen convicted of credit card fraud to Ankara, the first known extradition since Turkey threatened to freeze Stockholm’s application to join NATO.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to block both Sweden and Finland from NATO membership if they do not meet several demands, including the extradition of people Ankara considers “terrorists”.
Erdogan accuses the two countries of being havens for Kurdish militants, singling out in particular the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The man facing extradition was identified in Swedish court documents as Okan Kale, and was convicted in Turkey of credit card fraud in 2013 and 2016.
He applied for asylum in Sweden in 2011 but his request was rejected. He was granted refugee status in Italy in 2014.
Kale’s name is on a list published in Turkish media of people Ankara wants to extradite from Sweden.
However, the Ministry of Justice does not want to comment on whether the man was on a list drawn up by Turkey.
It noted that Ankara had requested his extradition in 2021 – well before Stockholm’s application to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in May.
– This is a normal routine matter, says the Ministry of Justice’s spokesperson Angelica Vallgren AFP. “The extradition request was received last year.”
Kale has been in Swedish custody since December 2021.
In an agreement signed by Sweden and Finland at a NATO summit in Madrid in late June, the two countries agreed to review Turkish extradition requests “quickly and thoroughly”.
Erdogan said Sweden has given a “promise” to extradite “73 terrorists”.