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Sweden ready to extradite first Turkish citizen since Nato application

The National logo The National 11/08/2022 Simon Rushton
Turkey, which has veto power over new Nato applicants, hinged its approval for the applications on a series of demands, one of which was the extradition issue. Reuters © DADO RUVIC Turkey, which has veto power over new Nato applicants, hinged its approval for the applications on a series of demands, one of which was the extradition issue. Reuters

Sweden is preparing to extradite a man to Turkey for the first time since its Nato application.

Both Sweden’s bid and Finland’s bid to joint the alliance were delayed over concerns from Nato member Turkey that the two Nordic neighbours would not extradite people it considers to be terrorists.

Turkey, which has veto power over new applicants, hinged its approval for the applications on a series of demands, one of which was the extradition issue.

Finland and Sweden submitted their Nato applications after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sweden had made a “promise” to extradite “73 terrorists”.

But the first extradition case to reach Swedish courts concerned credit card fraudster Okan Kale, who was convicted of crimes in Turkey in 2013 and 2016.

Kale's name features on a list published in Turkish media of people that Ankara wants extradited from Sweden. The Swedish justice ministry would not comment on whether he was on the list.

“This is a regular, routine matter,” Ministry of Justice spokeswoman Angelica Vallgren said. “The extradition request was received last year.”

Kale has been in Swedish custody since December 2021.

In an agreement signed by Sweden and Finland at a Nato summit in Madrid in late June, the two countries agreed to examine Turkish extradition requests “expeditiously and thoroughly”.

Mr Erdogan has said Sweden and Finland are havens for Kurdish militants.

Turkey dropped its veto to Finland and Sweden joining Nato in June, putting the countries on the fast track into the 30-nation alliance.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the admission of the two countries would chart a blueprint for the alliance “in a more dangerous and unpredictable world”, changing regional security and strengthening its presence in Europe.

Turkey’s objection to Finland and Sweden's membership had threatened to overshadow the June summit where leaders wanted to showcase unity as Russia wages war in Ukraine.

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