Turkish football star turned politician moves to US amid probe for 'insulting Erdoğan'
ISTANBUL - Agence France-Presse
AFP photoFormer Turkey football star Hakan Şükür went on trial on June 16 at an Istanbul court in absentia on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on social media, as his lawyer told the court that his client had moved to the United States.
Şükür, one of the stars of Turkey’s third place performance in the 2002 World Cup, is one of several thousand people including journalists, politicians and the occasional celebrity, to face legal proceedings on accusations of insulting the Turkish leader.
Ali Onur Güncel said his client could give testimony from the United States if evidence provided by the defence was found to be insufficient.
According to Turkish media, Şükür had accused Erdoğan of theft in a tweet in February 2015, without naming him directly.
Prosecutors have asked in the indictment for Şükür to serve up to four years in jail.
Şükür, a striker whose football career stretched from 1987-2007, was by far the most prolific goalscorer in the history of the Turkish national side, finding the net 51 times in 112 appearances.
His goal after just 11 seconds of play against South Korea in 2002 remains the fastest goal in World Cup history.
After football, Şükür went into politics and was in 2011 elected an MP with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
But he resigned in 2013 after a vast corruption probe that targeted members of government, siding with the movement of his arch-foe, the U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen.
Şükür had voiced objections to the government move to shut down schools run by Gülen's movement.
His lawyer's comments confirm that Şükür has left his home country for the United States have ended uncertainty over his whereabouts.
Şükür had previously insisted his presence there was merely temporary to learn English and open a football academy.