Sweden has extradited a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to Turkiye, as part of Stockholm’s efforts to gain Ankara’s approval for accession into the NATO alliance.
According to media reports, the man was previously sentenced to over six years imprisonment in Turkiye for his membership in the PKK, an armed Kurdish separatist group also designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union.
He then managed to flee to Sweden, where he applied for asylum. That request was denied by Swedish authorities, however. After being held by Swedish police, he was extradited and arrived in Istanbul yesterday evening, where he was then taken into custody by Turkish police.
Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing conflict in the embattled country, Sweden and Finland applied to join the NATO alliance earlier this year in order to ensure their protection from Russian aggression.
Turkiye and Hungary were the only NATO member states to refuse to approve their accession, however, with Ankara asserting that they harbour terrorist elements and must fulfil certain conditions to gain approval.
While most of those conditions have been agreed upon in subsequent diplomatic negotiations over the months and Stockholm and Helsinki have reiterated their commitments to them, Ankara insists the two northern European nations still need to fulfil some of their obligations before their membership can be approved in June next year.
One of those conditions is the extradition of members of PKK and other affiliated Kurdish militias. 33 other suspected “terrorist” members are reportedly still expected by Turkiye to be extradited by Sweden and Finland.