World Bulletin / News Desk
A court in southeastern Turkey on Tuesday acquitted a Turkish professional footballer born in Germany on charges of making terror propaganda for Kurdish militants.
Deniz Naki, who plays for second division side Amedspor in the city of Diyarbakir, was accused of promoting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
But the court in Diyarbakir acquitted him of the charges, an AFP correspondent said. If convicted, he had faced up to five years in jail.
Naki, 27, had been tried over posts in social media bitterly critical of the government's operations against PKK militants in the southeast.
The footballer had denied the charges, saying he only wanted to give a message of peace in the deadly standoff between the army and Kurdish militants.
"In my messages I just asked for peace -- I was against the fact that people got killed," Naki said outside the court.
His lawyer Haldi Soran Mizrak added that "in no way did Deniz Naki make any declaration asking for violence or even evoking violence.
"The court is of the same opinion as us since they acquitted him."
The Turkish Football Federation had in February suspended Naki for 12 games on grounds of making of "ideological propaganda" on the conflict in the Kurdish-majority southeast.
The case came to court as Turkey is accused by its Western allies for cracking down on freedom of expression, especially on Kurdish issues.
Ten MPs from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) have been arrested in the last days on terror charges.
A midfielder, Naki represented Germany at U-19 level and also played for Hamburg-based top German side FC St. Pauli.
On social media he has repeatedly made clear his pride over his family's origins as Kurdish Alevis from the Tunceli region of eastern Turkey.
Alevis adhere to an offshoot of Shiite Islam and are majority Sunni Turkey's biggest religious minority.
Tunceli, formerly called Dersim, is seen as the centre in Turkey for Kurdish Alevis who are traditionally anti-establishment.
Naki previously played for the Ankara-based Turkish Super Lig side Genclerbirligi and in 2014 temporarily fled Turkey for Germany after a violent attack in Ankara following tweets he sent hostile to Islamic State (IS) jihadists.
He subsequently left Genclerbirligi to join the lower-ranking Amedspor in Diyarbakir where he has become a popular figure among fans.
With Naki on board, Amedspor are having a strong season, and candidates for promotion to the second-tier first division as they lie in second place.
Naki is expected to be in the squad when Amedspor travel to Izmir for their next game Wednesday against Bucaspor.
Last Mod: 08 Kasım 2016, 21:02