January 31 – A German-Turkish player known for his pro-Kurdish views, who was targeted in a recent drive-by shooting, has been banned for life by the Turkish Football Federation.
German prosecutors have opened an attempted murder investigation after Deniz Naki, who has been convicted in Turkey because of his support for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), claimed he was attacked by Turkish intelligence in an assassination attempt linked to his criticism of the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Naki, 28, was born in Germany but has been playing for Amedspor, a second division side a club based in Diyarbakir in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeast. He was given an 18-month suspended sentence in April for “terrorist propaganda” in support of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
But now he has been banned from all competitive games for three years and six months and charged 273,000 liras for “separatist and ideological propaganda”, the TFF said. Procedurally, any suspension longer than three years in Turkey constitutes a life ban, meaning Naki will not be able to play football in the country again.
Turkish authorities have recently cracked down on public opposition to ground offensive against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia but Naki probably wouldn’t have returned to Turkey anyway. The German magazine Der Spiegel quoted his lawyer as saying the player wanted to terminate his contract with Amedspor due to security concerns and intended to stay in Germany.
Following January’s shooting in Germany near the Dutch border, Naki was moved into protective custody.
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