Footballer acquitted over ‘terror propaganda’ in Turkey’s southeast
DİYARBAKIR - Agence France-Presse
DHA photoA court in southeastern Turkey has acquitted Amedspor’s German-born footballer Deniz Naki on charges of making terror propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Naki, who plays for the third-tier club in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, was accused of promoting the PKK with social media posts, but the court acquitted him of the charges on Nov. 8. If convicted, he could have faced up to five years in jail.
Naki, 27, had been tried over posts in social media bitterly critical of the security operations against PKK militants in the southeast. The footballer had denied the charges, saying he only wanted to give “a message of peace in the deadly standoff between the army and the PKK.”
“In my messages I just asked for peace – I was against the fact that people got killed,” Naki said outside the court.
His lawyer, Haldi Soran Mizrak, added that “in no way did Deniz Naki make any declaration asking for violence or even evoking violence. The court is of the same opinion as us since they acquitted him.”
The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) had in February suspended Naki for 12 games on the grounds of making of “ideological propaganda.”
A midfielder, Naki represented Germany at the U-19 level and played for Hamburg-based top German side FC St. Pauli. Naki also previously played for the Ankara-based Turkish Super Lig side Gençlerbirliği and in 2014 temporarily fled Turkey for Germany after he suffered an attack by ultranationalists. He subsequently left Gençlerbirliği to join the lower-ranking Amedspor in Diyarbakır where he has become a popular figure among fans for his play and defense of the Kurdish cause.