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Sweden blocks extradition of dissident Turkish journalist

December 19, 2022 at 1:41 pm

Bulent Kenes, a 53 year old Turkish journalist. [Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images]

Sweden’s Supreme Court today blocked Turkiye’s request to have an exiled Turkish journalist extradited. Judge Petter Asp ruled that there was no crime committed sufficient for an extradition and that it would be dangerous for the individual. “An extradition can thus not take place,” he insisted.

According to the court, there were “several hindrances” to Ankara’s request for Bulent Kenes, the former editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Zaman, to be sent back to Turkiye. The newspaper was banned by the Turkish authorities after the government accused it and Kenes of participating in the 2016 attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Living in exile, Kenes now works for the Stockholm Centre for Freedom, founded by other exiled Turkish dissidents. He refused to be extradited to Turkiye due to the political nature of his case, his refugee status and the fact that he has not committed any crimes according to Swedish law.

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Speaking to AFP news agency, Kenes said that he was “happy” about the decision, but continued to stress that the Turkish government’s allegations against him have been “fabricated” by the Erdogan regime.

The Swedish court ruling is unlikely to be received well in Turkiye. The Turkish government has made the extradition of particular individuals and “terrorists” a key condition for its approval of Sweden and Finland’s applications to join NATO amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s threats against neighbouring countries.

The Swedish court’s ruling, which it insists is based on the independence of the judiciary from the government, is expected to anger Ankara. Kenes was the only individual named by Erdogan for extradition out of a list of dozens last month, so this matter could be a major obstruction in the ongoing negotiations over the NATO membership bid.

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