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Turkish citizen on trial in Sweden accused of ‘terrorist funding’

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A Turkish citizen who appeared in a Swedish court on Tuesday was accused of “attempted terrorist financing” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a first in the Scandinavian country seeking Ankara’s approval to join NATO, Agence France-Presse reported.

Turkey has accused Sweden of being a haven for “terrorists”, especially members of the PKK, which is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, as well as Sweden, the EU and Washington, and has asked Stockholm to extradite dozens of people.

The accused, in his 40s, was arrested in January after making threats and firing a gun outside a restaurant in Stockholm.

Prosecutors say the man aimed to extort money and use it to finance the PKK.

“It is possible that (my client) has had contacts with people linked to the PKK, but he himself has no ties” to the movement, the man’s lawyer İlhan Aydın told the court on Tuesday.

“My client rejects the accusations of aggravated extortion and attempting to fund [the PKK], but would accept a weapons charge,” Aydın told AFP on the eve of the trial.

The prosecutor meanwhile argued that the man played a key role in PKK activities in Sweden.

According to the charge sheet, which also references evidence from French and German intelligence, the man had been in contact with people directly involved in funding the PKK and had acted on the group’s behalf.

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

This is the first time the new law, already used in cases linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been used against an alleged PKK supporter.

Ending two centuries of neutrality and military non-alignment, Sweden and neighboring Finland announced bids to join NATO in May last year after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO member states yet to ratify Sweden’s bid — which requires unanimous approval.

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