Sweden and Finland rejected Turkey’s request for the extradition of suspects affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) outlawed by Turkey and the Gulen movement, Turkey’s Justice Ministry said in a statement.
The move comes even as the two Scandinavian countries, which have decided to join NATO, a military alliance, seek to overcome the potential veto from Turkey, a NATO member.
According to the Ministry statement on Monday, the Turkish government has begun the extradition process for 12 people from Finland, Xinhua news agency reported.
Six suspects were allegedly linked to the PKK group, and six others to the Gulen movement which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016.
Turkey also asked for the extradition of 21 suspects from Sweden, 10 affiliated with the Gulen movement and 11 with the PKK.
Both Nordic countries did not respond positively to any of the 33 extradition requests made in line with court decisions and evidence, according to Turkey’s Justice Ministry.
While 19 of the extradition requests were rejected, five of them were left unanswered by Finland and Sweden, the Ministry statement said, adding the process for nine extradition requests, two with Finland and seven with Sweden, continues.
The Turkish government does not favour Sweden and Finland’s plan to join NATO, which requires “unanimous agreement” among all members before any decision on its enlargement is made.
Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the two countries of harbouring “terrorist organisations”, including the PKK and Syria’s Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Ankara sees the YPG as the Syrian branch of the PKK.
Sweden and Finland proposed to work with Turkey toward eliminating its concerns regarding their NATO membership, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday, as Turkey demands “security guarantees” from the two countries and lifting of their defence export restrictions on Turkey.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the EU, has been rebelling against the Turkish government for more than three decades.
The Gulen movement is led by and named after the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is regarded by his followers as a spiritual leader. Turkey accuses US-based Gulen of masterminding the 2016 failed coup in which at least 250 people were killed.
Washington has been reluctant to extradite self-exiled Gulen, citing lack of hard evidence from Ankara against the Islamic cleric.