Sweden tightens terror legislation as tensions rise with Turkey over NATO’s bid
The Swedish government is proposing new legislation on anti-terror laws to widen the scope of activities that can be prosecuted, saying the threat level to the country increased after Paludan’s burning of the Koran.
Sweden’s government has proposed new legislation to ban activities linked to extremist groups, in a move to toughen anti-terror laws, a key demand from Türkiye to approve Stockholm’s NATO bid.
The legislation proposed on Thursday expands the scope of activities that can be prosecuted.
“This is a broader criminalization that targets a range of activities within a terrorist organization that need not be concretely linked to a specific terrorist crime,” Justice Minister Gunnar Strommer said at a press conference.
The new law, which the government hopes will come into force in June, will give authorities much wider powers to detain and prosecute people who support terrorist organisations, either through funding or otherwise.
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Actions such as handling equipment, organizing camps or places for meetings, cooking or being in charge of transport for designated terrorist organizations would be criminalized under the new law, which Strommer stressed was a “significant expansion of the scope compared to current legislation”.
Until now, it had been difficult to prosecute people unless their actions could be linked to a specific act of terrorism, Strommer said. The new law would cover all forms of participation.
Strommer said the need for tougher laws had been highlighted by the attack in central Stockholm in 2017 in which a man mowed down pedestrians on a busy shopping street, killing five.
But he added that the threat level had increased recently with Sweden seen as a legitimate target following the burning of the Koran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm by far-right Danish politician Rasmus Paludan in Stockholm last month, among others.
“There is a clearer and stronger rhetoric,” Strommer said.
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Sweden is not doing enough
Sweden pledged to step up cooperation with Türkiye in the fight against terrorism as part of an agreement reached in June aimed at overcoming Ankara’s objections to Sweden and Finland becoming NATO members.
Türkiye suspended the talks last month, saying Sweden was not doing enough, following protests in Stockholm including Paludan.
“Our position towards Finland is positive, but it is not positive towards Sweden,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.
Strommer said the new law would not affect the right to demonstrate, nor prevent people from displaying PKK terror group symbols.
The PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU – including Sweden.
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Source: TRTWorld and agencies