Kurdish footballer in ‘safe place’ after German attack

Kurdish footballer in ‘safe place’ after German attack
Picture taken on November 5, 2010 shows then St Pauli's striker Deniz Naki reacting during the German first division Bundesliga football match. (AFP)
Updated 09 January 2018

Kurdish footballer in ‘safe place’ after German attack

Kurdish footballer in ‘safe place’ after German attack

BERLIN: A German-Turkish footballer whose car was shot at on a German highway is in a “safe place” and receiving police protection after the apparent assassination attempt, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Deniz Naki, who plays in Turkey and is known for his pro-Kurdish views, was unharmed in the shooting late Sunday which he believes was linked to his criticism of the Turkish government.
The 28-year-old told German media his SUV came under fire from a black van on the A4 motorway near the western town of Dueren, leaving two bullets lodged in his car.
“I was afraid for my life,” said German-born Naki, who plays for the third-tier club Amedspor in the majority-Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.
“I am a walking target in Turkey because of my pro-Kurdish stance,” he was quoted as saying.
German prosecutors have opened an investigation into attempted murder, and police officers have since taken Naki to “a hidden location” as a precaution, his lawyer Soran Haldi Mizrak told DPA news agency.
Naki, who once played for Hamburg-based top German side FC St. Pauli, was last year convicted of spreading terror propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and handed a suspended jail term by a Turkish court.
The sentence came after he wrote posts on social media critical of the government’s operations against PKK militants in Turkey’s southeast.
He denied the charges, saying he only wanted to give a message of peace in the deadly standoff between the army and Kurdish militants.
A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office in the western German city of Aachen declined to say whether a political motive was suspected in the motorway attack, saying only that investigators were looking “in all directions.”