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Turkey seeks arrest of football hero Hakan Sukur in coup crackdown

Turkish authorities have issued a warrant for the arrest of former football star and legislator Hakan Sukur over his links to a US-based Muslim cleric accused by Turkey of masterminding last month's failed coup, reports said.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said the arrest warrant accused Sukur of "membership in an armed terror organisation".

His father Selmet Sukur was detained in the north-western province of Sakarya on Friday, hours after a warrant was also issued against him, the agency reported. A court has ordered that both men's assets in Turkey be seized, Anadolu said.

Sukur is Turkey's leading goal-scorer in international competition, with 51 goals in 112 appearances over 15 years. He also scored 332 goals in a club career that took in Inter Milan, Galatasaray, Blackburn Rovers, Torino and Parma.

He reportedly left Turkey last year and has made no secret of his affiliation to Fethullah Gulen, and resigned from the ruling party in 2013 following a government rift with the movement.

Meanwhile, Turkey's foreign minister told reporters that 32 Turkish diplomats who were called back to Turkey as part of an investigation into the coup attempt had failed to return.

Turkey launched a massive crackdown on alleged supporters of the movement led by Mr Gulen after the July 15 coup attempt that left more than 270 people dead, raising concerns among European nations and human rights groups.

More than 35,000 people have been detained for questioning while tens of thousands of others have been axed from government jobs, including in the judiciary, media, education, health care, military and local government.

Mr Gulen, who runs a network of worldwide charities and schools from self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, has denied any knowledge or involvement in the coup.

Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that of the 208 diplomatic personnel serving in foreign posts recalled following the coup bid, 32 had not complied and had fled to other countries.

He added that the ministry was in touch with the countries to which they had fled, seeking to secure their return.

Turkey has branded Mr Gulen's movement a terror organisation and wants the cleric returned to face trial. Washington has said it would need evidence of the cleric's involvement, and says the regular extradition process must be allowed to take its course.



From Belfast Telegraph