TURKEY

Turkey issues arrest warrant for Hakan Sükür

An arrest warrant has been issued for the former Turkey international in the probe over the failed 15 July coup aimed at unseating President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, state media said on Friday.

Turkey issues arrest warrant for Hakan Sükür
MUSTAFA OZER AFP

Turkey has issued an arrest warrant for former international player Hakan Şükür in the probe over the failed 15 July coup aimed at unseating President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, state media said on Friday.

Şükür is accused by prosecutors in Sakarya province east of Istanbul of being a member of the organisation of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen who Ankara claims was behind the coup.

His arrest is sought on charges of 'membership of an armed terror group', the state-run Anadolu agency said, referring to what Ankara calls the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO). Gulen denies such a group exists and accusations he was the mastermind behind the coup. The agency added that a similar warrant has also been issued for his father Selmet Şükür.

The report said neither man had been found at their Istanbul and Sakarya residences after the warrant was issued, adding Şükür and his family had left Turkey last year. He is currently believed to be in the United States.

Sükür pictured during his time at Galatasaray.

Şükür was one of the stars of Turkey's third-place finish at the 2002 World Cup and a household name at home and thoughout Europe. A striker whose football career stretched from 1987 to 2007, Şükür was by far the most prolific goal scorer in the history of the Turkish national side, finding the net 51 times in 112 appearances.

His is best known for his time at Galatasaray but he also enjoyed stints abroad for Inter Milan, Parma and Blackburn Rovers. His goal after just 11 seconds of play against South Korea in 2002 remains the fastest goal in World Cup history.

After his football career came to an end, Şükür went into politics and was elected an MP with Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2011. But he resigned in 2013 after a vast corruption probe that targeted Erdogan and his inner circle, siding with the movement of Erdogan's arch-foe Gulen.

Şükür had voiced objections to the government move to shut down schools run by Gulen's movement Hizmet, which means service in Turkish. He had in June gone on trial in absentia on charges of insulting Erdogan on social media.