Sweden to release Kurdish refugee who would be extradited to Turkey

Sweden has decided to release Kurdish refugee Zinar Bozkurt who has been held in a detention center for 55 days. Sweden had previously decided to extradite Bozkurt to Turkey.

Ahmet Tirej Kaya / DUVAR

Sweden has decided to release Zinar Bozkurt, a Kurdish refugee who has been kept in the detention center since Aug. 19.

Born in the southern province of Adana in 1995, Zinar Bozkurt joined the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) while in Turkey. Bozkurt decided to go to Sweden in 2014 with a work permit, saying "Police are following me.” 

Turkish police raided Bozkurt’s family home in Nov. 2016 as part of the investigations against the HDP at the time. In these operations, a friend of his, who had participated in HDP activities for a long time, was also arrested. Bozkurt then decided to take refuge in Sweden.

Bozkurt said The Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) interviewed him in 2018. He said his Facebook posts were presented as criminal elements and he was accused of allegedly “being a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) sympathizer.” He says that SÄPO asked questions such as “Do you see the YPG and YPJ as terrorist organizations?” “Why do you participate in marches with PKK flags?” and that he told them, “In Sweden, everyone can freely carry the flag they want. I did not hold any flags and I have no ties to the PKK. I am a Kurd and I support the HDP."

After his meeting with SÄPO, Bozkurt's asylum process did not conclude. In 2021, his application was rejected, and Sweden decided to extradite him. From this date on, he began to live illegally in Sweden.

Bozkurt says that Swedish police raided his house on Aug. 19 that when he went to the toilet, the police officers said "Don't close the door, we have to see you." Bozkurt also started a hunger strike and then death fast during his detention. He further said he was subjected to homophobic attack during his detention. 

After the reports about his release, Bozkurt’s lawyer Miran Kakaee said that there is no decision yet about his client’s residence permit. 

Kakaee said that the Immigration Agency wrote in the release decision of Bozkurt that with the developments in the asylum process so far, the decision to extradite Bozkurt is no longer possible. 

Kakaee stated that they have not received much information yet, and added: "I interpret the decision of the Immigration Agency as sharing my assessment that Bozkurt is at risk of torture if he is extradited to Turkey, and therefore Zinar cannot be extradited. However, they cannot keep him in the detention center.”

(English version by Alperen Şen)