Sweden plans to tighten its terrorism law with a view to joining NATO. The stricter law should give Swedish authorities broader powers to detain and prosecute individuals who support terrorist organisations, the government in Stockholm announced.
The planned change in the law comes against the backdrop of tensions between Stockholm and Ankara over Sweden's bid to join NATO.
After decades of neutrality, Finland and Sweden applied last year for NATO membership following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. All member states must agree and, so far, only Hungary and Turkey have not yet done so.
The main source of Turkey's opposition has been Swedish and Finnish support for the Kurdish party PKK and the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG, which Turkey labels terrorist organisations.
In June, Turkey and Sweden agreed to cooperate more closely on counterterrorism to address Ankara’s concerns, but Turkey has continued to block Sweden's accession. Relations between the two countries have been severely strained in recent weeks, especially after a Koran was burned during an anti-Ankara demonstration in Stockholm.
On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was positive about Finland's bid to join NATO, but not about Swedish accession.
Sweden now hopes to change that with the tougher terrorism law, one of Ankara’s main demands.
Until now, it has been difficult to prosecute people for terrorism unless their actions could be linked to a specific terrorist act, Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer explained.
The new law would cover all forms of involvement in terrorism, including financing. The government hopes it will take effect in June.