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.
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 has launched a massive crackdown on alleged supporters of the movement led by Fethullah Gulen, in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt that left more than 270 people dead and raising concerns among European Union nations as well as human rights groups.
More than 35,000 people have been detained for questioning while tens of thousands of others 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.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said an arrest warrant was issued for Mr Sukur late on Thursday, accusing him of “membership in an armed terror organisation.”
Prosecutors had also demanded the arrest of Mr Sukur’s father, the report said. A court ordered that both men’s assets in Turkey be seized, Anadolu said.
Mr Sukur, who reportedly left Turkey last year, played for Inter Milan and Galatasaray and was Turkey’s top goalscorer in international competition.
He has made no secret of his affiliation to Mr Gulen, and resigned from the ruling party in 2013 following a government rift with the movement.
During a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that, of the 208 diplomatic personnel serving in foreign posts recalled following the coup, 32 had not complied and had fled to other countries.
Mr Cavusoglu 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 Turkey 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.
During Friday’s press conference, Mr Cavusoglu said that a delegation from the US Department of Justice would be arriving on August 22 and meet with their Turkish counterparts on the following two days to discuss the extradition request.
Justice minister Bekir Bozdag said that the US delegation would include three Justice Department experts and one from the State Department.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved