28th Sep 2023

Sweden risks wrath of Erdoğan over extradition snub

  • Bülent Keneş fled to Sweden after briefly spending time in prison in Turkey
Listen to article

"Now, Erdoğan got the answer to his blackmail and I am happy for that," exiled Turkish journalist Bülent Keneş has said after a Swedish judge snubbed Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's personal extradition demand.

"This is huge not only for me, but also for Sweden itself," Keneş added, given that Erdoğan has threatened to block Sweden's Nato accession if it did not fall into line.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson (l) with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara (Photo:

"I am happy to see that Sweden is insisting on keeping its democratic and rule-of-law credentials even before the blackmail of an Islamofascist despot during its historical Nato membership process," Keneş told EUobserver on Monday (19 December).

"Actually, this is not an unexpected decision for me. I have always kept my trust in [the] Swedish system of rule of law," he also said.

The Swedish foreign ministry told this website: "We cannot speculate about a possible impact [of the court ruling] on our Nato accession".

But there was no way the government would ignore its own judges to please Erdoğan, it made clear.

"If the Supreme Court considers that an impediment to extradition exists in an individual case, the government must reject an extradition request," it said.

"The Swedish government must comply with Swedish and international law in extradition matters, which is also made clear in the trilateral agreement," Sweden said, referring to a three-way accord on Nato enlargement with Finland and Turkey.

Turkey has demanded Sweden extradite 33 Kurdish separatists and people linked to "FETÖ" — Ankara's name for followers of Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Muslim leader, whom Erdoğan blames for organising a failed coup in 2016.

Sweden has so far extradited two.

Erdoğan had piled on personal pressure when he met Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson in Ankara on 5 December.

"It is crucial that Sweden extradites terrorists sought by Turkey, including senior FETÖ figure Bülent Keneş," Erdoğan had said.

"It is important that this terrorist [Keneş] be deported to Turkey," he said.

But the Swedish Supreme Court judge, Petter Asp, didn't care about the Turkish strongman's loss of face.

The things Keneş stood accused of weren't even criminal offences in Sweden, Asp said in his statement on Monday.

And the chauvinism of the Turkish government showed Keneş wouldn't get a fair trial, he added.

There were "obstacles to extradition because it is a matter of so-called political crimes, i.e. crimes that are directed against the state and that are political in nature," Asp said.

"There is also a risk of persecution based on this person's political beliefs. An extradition can therefore not take place," Asp added.

All Nato states, apart from Turkey and Hungary, have ratified Sweden and Finland's joint bid, ending decades of neutrality in response to Russia's war on Ukraine.

The Hungarian government has blamed procedural delays in parliament, but the Hungarian opposition has accused it of trying to please Turkey and Russia by dragging its heels.

The 55-year old Keneş used to be editor-in-chief of Turkish newspaper Zaman before Erdoğan seized control of the publication.

"Erdoğan is a man with deep grudges. He personally knows and hates me (the feeling is mutual)," Keneş previously told EUobserver.

Sweden says 'no' to EU asylum relocation pledges

Sweden won't make any pledges to relocate asylum seekers under a French-inspired EU plan because there is no legal basis, says Sweden's ambassador to the EU. But Sweden's new right-wing government is also tightening migration rules.

Erdoğan's propaganda machine faces ultimate test

Turkey's presidential and parliamentary elections on 14 May will show whether Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's decade of relentless state interference with the media has paid off. Or whether a new generation of journalists finally taste freedom?


Why Sweden's Nato accession is still on hold

Curiously, it is not easy to ascertain exactly why Sweden could not enter the alliance on the same day as Finland, given the submission of parallel bids, writes former Swedish ambassador to Ankara, Michael Sahlin, and Kjell Engelbrekt.


After the earthquake, EU must confront Erdoğan's failures

One week after Turkey's earthquake left more than 30,000 people dead, hope of survival has been replaced by public anger. For two decades, Turkey's government has failed to enforce its own construction requirements, resulting in catastrophic building collapses.

EU’s €500m gender violence plan falls short, say auditors

The 'Spotlight Initiative' was launched in 2017 with a budget of €500 million to end all forms of violence or harmful practices against women and girls in partner countries, but so far it has had "little impact", say EU auditors.

Latest News

  1. Germany tightens police checks on Czech and Polish border
  2. EU Ombudsman warns of 'new normal' of crisis decision-making
  3. How do you make embarrassing EU documents 'disappear'?
  4. Resurgent Fico hopes for Slovak comeback at Saturday's election
  5. EU and US urge Azerbijan to allow aid access to Armenians
  6. EU warns of Russian 'mass manipulation' as elections loom
  7. Blocking minority of EU states risks derailing asylum overhaul
  8. Will Poles vote for the end of democracy?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  2. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  3. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  4. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us