Sweden’s highest court has rejected extradition requests for two men wanted by Turkey, saying the Scandinavian country does not criminalise the act they are accused of committing.
The men, who are refugees in Sweden but otherwise were not identified, cannot be sent to Turkey because “the requirement of dual criminality is not met”, the Swedish Supreme Court said in a statement on Thursday.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
Turkey claims the two men have 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”.
Turkey blames Gulen for the failed 2016 coup and lists his network as a terror organisation.
“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.
In May, Sweden tightened its antiterrorism laws, a move that was expected to help persuade Turkey to approve the Nordic nation’s request to join NATO.
Individuals convicted of participating in an armed organisation in a way that is intended to promote, strengthen or support the group face a prison term of up to four years. However, the penalty can be increased to eight years when a crime is deemed serious.
The court added that the men risk being exposed to persecution if they were to be extradited. They have refugee status in Sweden, the court said.
On Monday, NATO member Turkey withdrew its objections to Sweden joining the military alliance after a year of blocking Sweden’s bid.
The decision by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a significant move towards Sweden’s membership.
Sweden and neighbouring Finland had dropped long-standing policies of military non-alignment and applied to join the Western military alliance in May 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Any decision on NATO enlargement requires the unanimous approval of alliance members.