Sweden jails Kurdish man over attempted 'terrorist financing' for PKK, amid NATO bid

Sweden jails Kurdish man over attempted 'terrorist financing' for PKK, amid NATO bid
Turkey has accused Sweden of being a haven for the PKK, but Sweden needs Turkish support for its planned accession to NATO. Could this be Sweden's attempt to win Turkey around?
2 min read
06 July, 2023
The judge Mans Wigen sentenced the Kurdish man to four-and-a-half years in prison and ordered his deportation upon release [Getty]

A Swedish court on Thursday sentenced a Turkish man to jail for "attempted terrorist financing" for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a first in the Scandinavian country seeking Ankara's approval to join NATO.

The man, described by the Stockholm district court as a Kurd in his forties with roots in Turkey, was also found guilty of attempted aggravated extortion and a firearms offence.

The court slapped a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence and said he would be deported upon his release.

The man was arrested in January after making threats and firing a gun outside a restaurant in Stockholm.

Judge Mans Wigen said the man was "attempting to extort money from a Kurdish businessman in Stockholm at gunpoint to for the PKK".

"The attempted extortion took place within the framework of an extensive fundraising programme conducted by the PKK in Europe, including through extortion," Wigen said.

Ilhan Aydin, the man's lawyer, told AFP he would appeal.

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The NATO connection

Turkey, which is blocking Sweden's NATO bid, has accused the Scandinavian country of being a haven for "terrorists", especially members of the PKK, and has asked Stockholm to extradite dozens of people.

Sweden tightened its anti-terrorism legislation in July last year, making it easier to prosecute financing activities for terrorist organisations.

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This is the first time that the new law, already used in cases linked to the Islamic State group, has been used against an alleged PKK supporter.

The verdict comes as top diplomats from Turkey and Sweden are due meet on Thursday at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.