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ISTANBUL (AP) – Turkey’s foreign minister on Tuesday called Sweden’s top court’s refusal to extradite a man wanted by Turkey a “very negative development,” as Ankara continues to delay Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey’s request for the extradition of Bulent Kenes was rejected despite a memorandum signed by Turkey, Sweden and Finland that prevented Turkey’s veto of their NATO bid in June.

Kenes, 55, who has been granted asylum in Sweden, was the editor of the English-language newspaper Today’s Zaman, which was owned by the network linked to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. It was shut down as part of a government crackdown on the group.

Turkey blames Gulen for the failed coup in 2016 and considers his network a terrorist organization. Turkey also accuses Kenes of being among the coup plotters.

On Monday, Sweden’s Supreme Court said that there are “barriers to extradition because it is about so-called political crimes, that is, crimes that are directed against the state and that are of a political nature.”

The joint memorandum states that Finland and Sweden “will not provide support to… the organization described as FETO”, which is Turkey’s designation for Gulen’s network. Cavusoglu said “coup plotters” there would have to be extradited.

He reiterated that Turkey needed to see “concrete steps” rather than “pretty words” to approve the Nordic countries’ NATO membership. Cavusoglu said his Swedish counterpart would visit Ankara on Thursday.

NATO member Turkey has put on hold bids by Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance after they dropped their long-standing policy of military non-alignment following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

pushing for the two Nordic countries to crack down on groups they consider to be terrorist organizations and to extradite suspects wanted in Turkey. Any decision on NATO expansion requires the approval of all alliance members.

The parliaments of Turkey and Hungary have not yet ratified the NATO applications. The 28 other NATO states have already done so.

Sweden’s extradition refusal “very negative”

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