Ankara, Aug 13: He was a hero for his country in the 2002 Fifa World Cup but today, Hakan Sukur---a former national footballer of Turkey---is a suspect in the eyes of the authorities as they have issued an arrest warrant for him over the failed coup attempt of July 15.
Sukur, 44, has been charged with membership of an armed terror group by prosecutors in Sakarya province to the east of Istanbul, the state-run Anadolu agency said, referring to what Turkey calls the Fethullah Terror Organisation.
Turkey has accused Fethullah Gulen, a veteran cleric who lives in Pennsylvania in a self-imposed exile, as the mastermind of the coup to overthrow the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and sought his extradition. The US, however, has not agreed to do so as it sought more evidence. Gulen also denied his involvement in the coup attempt.
The local media said a warrant on identical charges was also issued for the former footballer's father Selmet and an order has been given to seize their assets in the country. Though Sukur and his family have left Turkey in 2015 and are believed to be in the US, a private television said Selmet was detained on Friday (Aug 12).
Sukur reportedly did not hide his affiliation with Gulen, as a Daily Mail report said, and resigned as the MP of the ruling Justice and Development Party in 2013 to serve as an independent.
The Turkish authorities also said they were receiving "some positive signals" from the US over Gulen's extradition, said an AFP report.
Sukur, who was nicknamed "Bull of the Bosphorus", was one of the stars in Turkey's impressive third-place finishing in the 2002 World Cup.
The striker, who scored a record 51 goals in 112 appearances for Turkey, also scored the fastest goal in that tournament when he netted the ball in the 11th second against co-hosts South Korea in the third-place decider.