Kurdish footballer briefly detained over alleged insult toward Erdogan

Erdogan's lawyers had previously filed a criminal complaint against Naki.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - Turkish police late Tuesday briefly arrested German-Kurdish footballer Deniz Naki in the city of Diyarbakir over alleged insults toward President Recep Tayyip Erdogan posted on social media.

Erdogan's lawyers had previously filed a criminal complaint against Naki based on content shared via a Twitter account opened in his name, portraying itself as the player for the Amedspor Kurdish football team hailing from Diyarbakir, the local Kurdistan 24 Bureau reported.

Following an interrogation session at the police's headquarters, Naki was released once authorities' concluded the Twitter account disparaging the President was not his.

The investigation into the matter, meanwhile, continues.

In a December 2016 Reuters report, Erdogan's lawyers until then had filed more than 1,800 libel cases against individuals including cartoonists, a former Miss Turkey winner, and schoolchildren as well as the imprisoned Co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas.

Naki (27), a midfielder born in Germany to parents hailing from the Alevi Kurdish Dersim province, already faces risks of imprisonment in Turkey.

Last April, a Turkish court sentenced him to 18 months and 22 days in jail on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda on social media.

His sentence was suspended after the judge decided to delay the imprisonment for five years on the condition he not repeat the crime.”

Naki’s trial came after his earlier acquittal in November 2016 from the accusations based on his social media posts.

“I gave a message of peace. I said I am against the war. I am sentenced because of that,” Naki had then told the media.

Charges prosecutors laid against Naki were "creating enmity in public and engaging in hate speech."

His social media comments addressed the start of a new round of clashes between Turkish government forces and the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which began in mid-2015.

In September 2015, the footballer shared a post on his official Facebook page following the death of two PKK members in Dersim.

“A thousand greetings to the heroes of Dersim,” Naki wrote on his page.

In January 2016, the player posted a photo of a man holding his deceased child, referencing the military curfew in the Kurdish town of Cizre besieged by the Turkish army for months in hopes of dislodging PKK affiliates.

“Think of a father whose two children have been shot and [lying] next to him lifelessly; he can’t even bury them because there is a curfew in Cizre,” the post read.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) last year banned Naki for 12 matches following his comments.


Editing by G.H. Renaud