30th May 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: tccb.gov.tr)

"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.


How the EU's money for waste went to waste in Lebanon

The EU led support for the waste management crisis in Lebanon, spending around €89m between 2004-2017, with at least €30m spent on 16 solid-waste management facilities. However, it failed to deliver.

Latest News

  1. EU clashes over protection of workers exposed to asbestos
  2. EU to blacklist nine Russians over jailing of dissident
  3. Russia-Ukraine relations the Year After the war
  4. Why creating a new legal class of 'climate refugees' is a bad idea
  5. Equatorial Guinea: a 'tough nut' for the EU
  6. New EU ethics body and Moldova conference This WEEK
  7. How the EU's money for waste went to waste in Lebanon
  8. EU criminal complicity in Libya needs recognition, says expert

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

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. InformaConnecting Expert Industry-Leaders, Top Suppliers, and Inquiring Buyers all in one space - visit Battery Show Europe.
  2. EFBWWEFBWW and FIEC do not agree to any exemptions to mandatory prior notifications in construction
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us