Turkish-German footballer given suspended term for ‘terror propaganda’
DİYARBAKIR - Agence France-PresseA court in southeastern Turkey on April 6 handed a professional footballer born in Germany a suspended jail sentence for “making terror propaganda” for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Deniz Naki, who plays for second division side Amedspor in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, was accused of promoting the PKK.
He was acquitted in an initial hearing in November 2016, but the verdict was then sent to a regional court in the southeastern province of Gaziantep, which quashed the ruling and sent the case back to Diyarbakır.
The Diyarbakır court on April 6 ordered Naki to serve one and a half years in jail but suspended the sentence for five years.
Naki, 27, had been charged over posts on social media bitterly critical of the government’s operations against PKK militants in the southeast.
The footballer has denied the charges, saying he only wanted to give a message of peace in the deadly standoff between the army and militants.
“I was acquitted in my first trial and it’s disappointing to come out of here with such a verdict,” he said.
“I gave a message of peace. I said I was against the war and I have been punished for this. I am someone in love with peace and I will always give this message. I am ready to pay the price whatever it is,” he added.
His lawyer Soran Haldi Mizrak said Naki would now appeal for this verdict to be quashed.
A midfielder, Naki represented Germany at U-19 level and also played for Hamburg-based top German side FC St. Pauli.
Naki previously played for the Ankara-based Turkish Super League side Gençlerbirliği. He subsequently left the team to join the lower-ranking Amedspor, where he became a popular figure among fans.