Turkish consulate in Hamburg confiscates Kurdish boxer's passport

The champion Ismail Ozen says his opposition to Turkish President Erdogan's policies led to the consulate's action.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Turkish consulate in Germany’s Hamburg city confiscated Kurdish boxer Ismail Ozen’s passport on the grounds there was an arrest warrant for him in Turkey, the champion wrote Saturday on a social media page.

On Twitter, Ozen said he was visiting the consulate for paperwork on Feb. 6 when diplomatic staff refused to give back his Turkish passport and informed him that they were acting on instructions from Ankara.

He said the consular officials did not tell him what charges Turkey filed against him, adding he has also not received any written notice.

“But I have learned through my lawyer that the issue is related to a media investigation. I demanded to get an official paper stating why my passport was seized, but the officials refused. They only said they could prepare a travel document if I intend to go to Turkey,” Ozen wrote.

Turkish diplomatic posts in Germany and elsewhere have in the past taken away passports of other citizens deemed to be acting against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration.

The champion suggested the reason could be his pro-Kurdish activism.

“I find Erdogan’s incitement of his supporters in Europe against the opposition, Kurds, and Alevis dangerous; this is why I am a target. I do not think their confiscation of my passport is independent of this.”

In June 2016, he said there was at least one Turkish investigation accusing him of “terrorist propaganda and aid to a terrorist organization” for his statements supporting Kurdish war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and defending Kurds’ political rights in Turkey.

Ozen is a Hamburg-born boxing champion in Germany (2009, 2012, 2016) with family roots in the province of Dersim, Kurdistan of Turkey.

“My freedom of movement has been violated. I cannot engage in any commercial or bureaucratic affairs. Because there is an ongoing process on my German citizenship, I currently without a passport,” he said, calling on the Berlin government to take a stance.

Ozen donated an amount of money he won in a 2016 German boxing championship to the town of Kobani in Syrian Kurdistan which was devastated during a months-long brutal siege by the Islamic State.

He has also appeared in photographs with the imprisoned Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas, the former Co-head of Turkey’s opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a rival of Erdogan in the past two presidential elections, who would go to Germany to watch Ozen’s boxing fights.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany