STOCKHOLM (AP) — A Turkish man was found guilty Thursday of attempted aggravated extortion, weapons possession and attempted terrorist financing, saying he was acting on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The Stockholm District Court sentenced Yahya Güngör to a total of 4.5 years in prison for the crimes, after which he would be
STOCKHOLM (AP) — A Turkish man was found guilty Thursday of attempted aggravated extortion, weapons possession and attempted terrorist financing, saying he was acting on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
The Stockholm District Court sentenced Yahya Güngör to a total of 4.5 years in prison for the crimes, after which he would be expelled from Sweden and banned from returning to the Scandinavian country.
Swedish media said it was the first time that someone in Sweden was prosecuted for alleged terrorist financing of the party. Also known as PKK, it has waged an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984 and is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
In May, Sweden tightened its anti-terrorism laws — a move expected to help gain approval for the Nordic nation’s request to join NATO. Swedish lawmakers included a prison term of up to four years for individuals convicted of participating in an extremist organization in a way that is intended to promote, strengthen or support such a group.
Turkey has refused to approve Sweden’s request to join NATO, accusing the Swedish government of not doing enough to crack down on PKK members and others whom Ankara considers extremists. The military alliance wants to admit Sweden before a NATO summit later this month in Vilnius, Lithuania. Senior officials from the two countries were set to meet Thursday to address Turkey’s objections.
All existing members must ratify a candidate country’s accession protocol before it can join the trans-Atlantic alliance. Turkey and Hungary are the only two members that have not yet ratified Sweden’s bid.
Güngör, a Kurd, was charged last month for attempting to extort money on Jan. 11 in Stockholm by pointing a loaded revolver at a person, firing in the air and threatening to damage the premises unless he received demanded funds the following day. The man has denied any wrongdoing.
The court found that Güngör guilty and said the investigation into the case showed “that the PKK conducts a very extensive fundraising activity in Europe using e.g. extortion of Kurdish businessmen.”
Judge Mans Wigen, who called the crime “serious,” said that “the PKK is therefore to be considered a terrorist organization according to Swedish law.”
He noted that Güngör “would risk torture or other inhumane treatment if deported to Turkey.” Because Güngör will be jailed for several years, “it is not possible to assess whether the obstacle to enforcement is permanent,” Wigen said in a statement. “The convicted person must therefore be deported.”
The Associated Press