Sweden charges man suspected of financing outlawed Kurdish group

A Turkish citizen is charged in Sweden for gun crimes and raising money for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Media attend a press conference held by the Swedish Prosecution Authority in Stockholm
Media attend a press conference held by the Swedish prosecution authority in Stockholm [File: Maja Suslin/TT News Agency via Reuters]

Swedish prosecutors have charged a Turkish citizen for gun crimes and raising money for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.

Friday’s case has come at a sensitive time in Sweden’s relations with Turkey, which is holding up its application for NATO membership, in part because it has said Sweden harbours supporters of armed groups it considers to be “terrorists”.

Sweden’s prosecution authority said it was the first time anyone had been charged in the country with attempting to provide financing to the PKK, designated “a terrorist organisation” by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

It said the man was suspected of aggravated extortion, serious gun crime and attempting to fund PKK.

“The investigation has given support for suspicions that the man was acting on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party,” the prosecution authority said in a statement.

According to the indictment, the man was part of an extensive organisation collecting money for the PKK and had contact with another Turkish citizen who was jailed in Germany for being a member of the armed group.

The man’s lawyer, Ilhan Aydin, said his client rejected the accusations of aggravated extortion and attempting to fund, but would accept a weapons charge of a lower grade.

Aydin also said he did not want the geopolitical situation to overshadow his client’s case.

“I hope my client does not become a piece in the game or the negotiations on NATO,” he said.

Sweden, which applied to join NATO last year following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, wants its membership ratified before the alliance’s summit in mid-July in Vilnius.

Only Turkey and Hungary have yet to approve the bid. Finland, which applied alongside Sweden and was initially blocked by Ankara, joined NATO in April.

Sweden said it has fulfilled all the conditions of a three-way pact with Turkey and Finland struck in Madrid in June last year to smooth its path to NATO membership.

But Turkey has said Sweden has not gone far enough to assuage its security concerns.

Talks between the two countries over NATO accession are due to restart next week.

Source: Reuters