Swedish court: Man wanted by Turkey cannot be extradited


COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Sweden’s top court on Monday rejected a request to extradite a man wanted by Turkey, saying…

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Sweden’s top court on Monday rejected a request to extradite a man wanted by Turkey, saying the crime the person is alleged to have committed is “not criminalized” in the Scandinavian country.

In a statement, the Supreme Court said that there were “obstacles to extradition because it is a matter of so-called political crimes, i.e. crimes that are directed against the state and that are political in nature.” The court did not name in the suspect in line with Swedish policy.

However, Swedish news agency TT said he was Bulent Kenes and that Turkey claims that he was co-responsible for the coup attempt in Turkey in 2016.

Kenes, 55, who has asylum in Sweden, was the editor of the English-language Today’s Zaman newspaper, which was owned by the network linked to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. It was closed down as part of a government crackdown on the group. Turkey blames Gulen for the failed coup in 2016 and considers his network to be a terror organization.

NATO-member Turkey has been holding up bids by Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance, pressing for the two Nordic countries to crackdown on groups it considers to be terrorist organizations and extradite suspects wanted in Turkey.

When Sweden and Finland dropped their longstanding policies of military nonalignment and applied for NATO membership in May, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promptly said his country would not accept them and accused the two Nordic countries of turning a blind eye to terrorism. Any decision on NATO enlargement requires approval by all alliance members.

Last month, Erdogan had singled Kenes out during a joint news conference with the Swedish prime minister in Ankara.

“There is one member of the (Gulen) terrorist organization in Sweden, whose name I will give: Bulent Kenes,” Erdogan said. “For example, the deportation of this terrorist to Turkey is of great importance to us, and we of course want Sweden to act with more sensitivity (on the issue).”

The Supreme Court in Stockholm said that there is “a risk of persecution based on the person’s political views.”

“It is clear that in this case there are several obstacles to extradition,” Supreme Court judge Petter Asp said in the statement “Extradition cannot therefore take place.”

Earlier this month, Sweden deported an unnamed man who fled there after being convicted by a Turkish court of membership in an armed organization in 2015. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency identified the man as Mahmut Tat who had been sentenced to more than six years in prison.


Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.

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