Sweden Blocks Turkish Journalist's Extradition

Sweden’s Supreme Court on Monday blocked the extradition of Bulent Kenes, an exiled Turkish journalist and former editor-in-chief of the Zaman newspaper, which has been one of Ankara's key demands before ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership.

Sweden Blocks Turkish Journalist's Extradition
Image credit: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images [via The Guardian]

Facts

  • Sweden’s Supreme Court on Monday blocked the extradition of Bulent Kenes, an exiled Turkish journalist and former editor-in-chief of the Zaman newspaper, which has been one of Ankara's key demands before ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership.
  • The court said there were "several hindrances" to the extradition of Kenes, including the fact that some of the accusations against him aren't crimes in Sweden, as well as his refugee status and the political nature of his case.
  • In the court's ruling, Judge Petter Asp stated that “there is also a risk of persecution based on this person’s political beliefs. An extradition can thusly not take place."
  • Zaman was banned by Turkish authorities after the government accused it and Kenes of participating in the 2016 attempted coup against Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Kenes went into exile and began working for the Stockholm Centre for Freedom, founded by other exiled Turkish dissidents.
  • Erdoğan has explicitly named Kenes as a suspected "terrorist." Ankara has increased the number of people it wants to be extradited over time, beginning at 33, then 45, then 73, in unofficial lists published by media close to the Turkish government.
  • Stockholm has repeatedly stressed that its judiciary has the final say in extraditions and that the government doesn't have the power to override the decision.

Sources: Al Jazeera, DW, Guardian, Middle East Monitor, and France24.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by SCF. Sweden cannot call itself a democracy if it capitulates to the demands of a dictator. Erdoğan's rule in Turkey has quickly changed the country from a thriving democracy in the Middle East to another authoritarian regional state. The only thing Renes is guilty of is not toeing Erdoğan's line. The court made the right decision.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Daily Sabah. Renes is directly associated with the terrorist Gulen movement, and Sweden must pursue justice and have him extradited to Turkey. The Turkish armed forces are the largest military in NATO outside of the US, and its demands shouldn't be taken lightly. Sweden cannot be allowed to turn a blind eye to terrorism while also expecting to be able to join NATO without any concessions.