Turkey seeks arrest of soccer striker Hakan Sukur, seizes assets

by Reuters
Friday, 12 August 2016 13:01 GMT

ANKARA, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Turkey has issued an arrest warrant for one of its most celebrated soccer players, former international striker Hakan Sukur, ordering the seizure of his assets as part of an investigation into last month's failed coup, state media said.

Prosecutors accuse Sukur of "being a member of an armed terror group", a reference to the organisation of the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen whom Ankara says was behind the abortive putsch. Gulen denies the accusation.

After football, Sukur went into politics and was in 2011 elected to parliament for President Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party. He resigned in 2013 after a corruption probe that targeted Erdogan and his inner circle, siding with the movement of Gulen.

The player's father, Sermet Sukur, was detained on Friday in the northwestern province of Sakarya, state-run Anadolu Agency reported. A court on Thursday had ordered his arrest, as well as that of Sukur.

A court ruled on Friday that all bank accounts, vehicles and other assets belonging to Sukur, the national team's all time top scorer, and his father be seized, Anadolu said.

Hakan Sukur, lives in the United States and is among some 350 people being sought by the Turkish authorities. He faced a separate court case in June accused of insulting Erdogan. The case has yet to be concluded.

The footballer denied having fled to the United States in the insult case, saying he moved there, rather than running away. He has not made any comment in relation to the arrest warrant.

Turkey accuses U.S.-based cleric Gulen of orchestrating the coup attempt. Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile for almost 20 years, is accused of running a decades-long campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

Sukur, whose football career stretched from 1987 to 2007, was by far the most prolific striker in the history of the Turkish national side, with 51 goals in 112 appearances.

Sukur is also remembered for his performance in the 2002 World Cup, where Turkey registered its best showing of third place. Sukur counts Galatasaray, Inter Milan and Blackburn Rovers among his former clubs. (Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Daren Butler and Alison Williams)

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