Turkey Seeks to Arrest Soccer Legend as Purge Grows

Hakan Sukur Believed to Have Already Left the Country

by Jason Ditz, August 12, 2016

Nearly a month after a failed military coup, Turkey’s “purge” continues to grow and target surprising aspects of society. The most recent targets are sports figures, with retired soccer star Hakan Sukur the latest to be sought on charges of membership in “an armed terror group,” which as always is the Gulen movement, which the government accuses of being behind the coup.

Sukur is considered a legend in Turkey, and a virtual household name for his role in Turkey’s third place finish in the 2002 World Cup. Since retired, he became a supporter of the ruling AKP Party, and was even elected as an MP from the party in 2011.

At the time, the AKP had positive ties with Gulen, and Sukur was part of the pro-Gulen wing of the party. When they split, he fell out of favor politically, and now officials are trying to round him up in the purge, though indications are he has already fled the country, likely to the US.

Sukur’s father wasn’t so lucky, however, and along with a court order to seize all of the soccer star’s assets in the country, his father was arrested on the same charges of being in league with Gulen. He is accused of providing financial support to Gulen.

Sukur isn’t the only sports figure facing the purge. Oklahoma City Thunder Center Enes Kanter, is under fire for publicly endorsing Gulen after the failed coup. Kanter’s parents, apparently unwilling to end up the same as Sukur’s father, have publicly disowned him. They accuse Gulen of having “hypnotized” the NBA star.

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