Sweden’s Supreme Court on Thursday said there are “obstacles to extradition” of two Turkish citizens wanted by Ankara for alleged involvement in the so-called Gulen movement. The court said “the requirement of dual criminality” — when a criminal offense in Turkey would also be considered a crime in Sweden — had not been met. The court also said the two people — who have refugee status in Sweden — “risk being exposed to persecution if they were to be extradited”.
Turkey wants the men extradited because it argues they had joined the movement of United States-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen “by downloading and using a mobile application, which is used by the movement’s members”. Erdogan’s administration blames Gulen for the failed 2016 coup and lists his network as a terror organization.
“Downloading and using a mobile application cannot in itself be considered to constitute such participation as is required for criminality under the Terrorist Crimes Act,” the court said.
The extraditions are a key demand by Turkey in order for it to back Sweden’s NATO membership bid and had been a point of contention until just a few days ago. Earlier this week Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated that he was ready to support Sweden’s bid to join the security alliance. No date was given as to when that would happen and support would be in exchange for increased security cooperation and Stockholm’s assistance to revive Turkey’s longstanding EU membership bid. Increased trade and investment also formed part of the agreement.
Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO states who have yet to ratify Sweden’s bid, something which requires unanimous ratification. Sweden and neighboring Finland had dropped longstanding policies of military nonalignment and applied to join the Western military alliance in May 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine.
This is not the first time that Sweden’s top court has rejected an extradition request from Turkey. In December 2022, the court refused to extradite a journalist wanted by Turkey, saying there was “a risk of persecution based on the person’s political views” if he were returned to Turkey.