Turkey’s condition to let Sweden and Finland join NATO: Extradite ‘terrorists’

Turkey: the only NATO member that’s stopping the Nordic nations from joining
The extradition of more than 70 so-called terrorists
Who are the terrorists?
Insulting President Erdogan is a crime
Bulent Kenes: Journalist on Erdogan’s terrorist list
The Gulen movement
Fabricated allegations
Jailed for a tweet
Not afraid of extradition because he doesn’t believe Sweden will do it
Fatih: a reformed arsonist
He finished serving a 14-month sentence and paid damages
Fatih believed he was targeted because of his Kurdish background
Kurdish people have faced persecution in Turkey for years
Fatih fears harassment or possible arrest abroad
Aysen Furhoff: a teacher who fled
She left Turkey 20 years ago
She admits to have collaborated with the PKK 25 years ago
She denies the PKK is a terrorist group
Will Sweden and Finland go ahead with the extraditions?
No citizens extradited
No extradition for those who risk persecution
Rejected extraditions from Sweden
Finland extradited two people
Possible backlash
Turkey: the only NATO member that’s stopping the Nordic nations from joining

Sweden and Finland applied to join the West's defensive alliance after Russia launched its war in Ukraine. Turkey was the only one of NATO's 30 member states to block their bids until the two Nordic states agreed to a set of demands.

The extradition of more than 70 so-called terrorists

A key condition for Turkey to accept, is the handover of more than 70 people described by its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as terrorists.

Who are the terrorists?

Turkey is particularly keen on the handover of individuals it considers linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), considered a terrorist group by the EU, US and UK. Nevertheless, Erdogan is also after journalists or teachers who were against his regime.

Insulting President Erdogan is a crime

Insulting President Erdogan remains a common charge today, with 17 journalists and cartoonists put on trial in the first three months of 2022, according to independent Turkish organisation Bianet.

 

Bulent Kenes: Journalist on Erdogan’s terrorist list

For years, he was editor-in-chief of Today's Zaman, a major English-language daily in Turkey, before it was shut down in 2016. Now, he lives in exile in Stockholm (Sweden).

Image: Jana Shnipelson/Unsplash

 

The Gulen movement

Turkish authorities accuse him of being part of the Gulen movement, or what they call the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (Feto). It is known for its network of schools and is not considered a terror group in the EU, UK or US.

Fabricated allegations

Kenes told the BBC he became a target for his outspoken criticism of President Erdogan and faced accusations of plotting to topple the government: "All the allegations are fabricated. I am an independent journalist with no affiliations with any organisation."

Image: Kate Bezzubets/Unsplash

Jailed for a tweet

The journalist was given a suspended jail term in 2015 for "insulting the president", in a tweet that said Erdogan's late mother would be ashamed of him.

Image: Claudio Schwarz/Unsplash

 

Not afraid of extradition because he doesn’t believe Sweden will do it

Kenes told the BBC he’s not particularly afraid of being extradited, as that would be a "betrayal of Sweden's values" of democracy and protecting dissidents. "This is not a test for the Erdogan regime, this is a test for the Swedish authorities," he said.

 

Fatih: a reformed arsonist

Another so-called terrorist on Turkey's list is Fatih, a Finnish Kurd that was part of a group of five young men who set fire to the door of the Turkish embassy in 2008. Now a 37-year-old business owner and entrepreneur, he told the BBC he regretted what he did.

 

He finished serving a 14-month sentence and paid damages

He was surprised to find his name on the list as he finished serving a 14-month suspended sentence long ago and paid damages to the embassy. Finnish authorities granted him citizenship a few years ago and considered the embassy case closed, he said.

 

Fatih believed he was targeted because of his Kurdish background

Turkey accuses him of being a member of the militant PKK, but Fatih said he had no ties or ideological connections to the PKK, and believed he was targeted purely because of his Kurdish background.

 

Kurdish people have faced persecution in Turkey for years

Kurds make up 15-20% of Turkey's population but have faced persecution in Turkey for generations. The government in Ankara is trying to ban the pro-Kurdish HDP party, the third biggest in parliament.

Image: Levi Meir Clancy/Unsplash

Fatih fears harassment or possible arrest abroad

While Fatih doesn’t believe he would be extradited as a Finnish citizen, he fears harassment in the local Turkish community or possible arrest abroad at Turkey's request.

 

Aysen Furhoff: a teacher who fled

Aysen Furhoff came to Sweden after serving five years of a life sentence in Turkey for trying to "subvert the constitutional order" when she was 17 and a member of the Turkish Communist Party. She told the BBC she was offered protection in Sweden after being tortured in jail.

She left Turkey 20 years ago

Now 45, she lives in Stockholm with her husband and daughter and works as a teacher, and insists she is no longer involved in Turkish politics. "I left Turkey 20 years ago. If I get sent there, they will have no use for me. That's why being on the list was surprising. Who am I to them?"

Image: Jason Goodman/Unsplash

 

She admits to have collaborated with the PKK 25 years ago

Furhoff says she is also being prosecuted in Turkey for being a PKK member. She admits collaborating with them for three months some 25 years ago.

 

She denies the PKK is a terrorist group

While she no longer sympathises with the PKK, she denies they are a terrorist group and believes they should be part of discussions for a negotiated peace in Turkey. She’s not worried about extradition but finds it hard to believe she could be an important case for Ankara.

Will Sweden and Finland go ahead with the extraditions?

While the leaders of the two Nordic nations say they are taking the issue seriously, according to the BBC, it is an independent court that has the final say on extradition, not politicians.

Image: Tingey Injury Law Firm/Unsplash

No citizens extradited

People who are Finnish or Swedish citizens can’t be extradited. Foreign nationals can, but only if in line with the European Convention on Extradition.

 

No extradition for those who risk persecution

Extradition is not allowed for political crimes or to countries where people risk persecution. Also, alleged offences must be seen as a crime in Sweden or Finland, not just in Turkey.

Rejected extraditions from Sweden

According to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, of the 33 Swedish names listed in Turkish media, 19 have already been rejected for extradition by Stockholm's Supreme Court.

Image: Lilzidesigns/Unsplash

 

Finland extradited two people

Finland has extradited two people to Turkey out of more than a dozen requests. The justice ministry says no new requests have been received and it has promised the Kurdish community there will be no change to the law.

Possible backlash

If Turkey's demands are rejected, it could withdraw its support for the Nordic nations' accession to NATO, says Murat Yesiltas of pro-government think tank Seta, as parliaments in all 30 NATO countries need to approve them as members.

 

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