AFP — Feb 24, 2016
Turkey’s former international football star Hakan Şükür risks up to four years in jail after being charged with insulting president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Twitter, reports said on Wednesday.
Prosecutors have charged Şükür with posting tweets from his account @HakanSukur containing “insulting content against Mr President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his son,” the private Dogan news agency reported.
In his defence, Şükür, 44, said he did not intend to target the president in his posts, the content of which was not made clear. But that was rejected by prosecutors, who claimed that the tweets were “clearly related” to Erdoğan, the news agency said.
If convicted, Şükür faces up to four years in jail, according to the charges. As the indictment has been approved, a first hearing is expected in the coming weeks.
Şükür,whose football career stretched from 1987 to 2007, was by far the most prolific striker in the history of the Turkish national side, with 51 goals in 112 appearances. He is also remembered for his performance in the 2002 World Cup, where Turkey registered its best ever performance of third place.
After football, Şükür went into politics and was in 2011 elected MP for Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP). But he resigned in 2013 after a corruption probe that targeted Erdoğan and his inner circle, siding with the movement of his arch-foe, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gülen.
Şükür had voiced objections to the government move to shut down the schools run by Gülen’s movement, known as Hizmet (“the Service”).
The legal case is one of a string of others targeting journalists, bloggers and ordinary people who land in court on charges of insulting Erdoğan and other senior officials. Opponents say Erdoğan has become an increasingly polarising figure in Turkey since becoming president in 2014, showing no tolerance for any criticism on social media or on the streets.
Şükür also responded through tweets to claims that he has moved to the US, saying he went to California to work on his project of opening a sports academy and to learn English. It was not clear if he will be present at the trial.