Turkey's former international goalkeeper caught in Ankara's anti-Gulen dragnet

Turkey's former international goalkeeper caught in Ankara's anti-Gulen dragnet
2 min read
29 August, 2017
Turkey former international goalkeeper Omer Catkic has become the latest sports star to be swept up in Turkey's far-reaching anti-Gulenist purge.
Omer Katkic, 42, will be remanded in custody until his trial [Getty]

Former Turkish international football goalkeeper Omer Catkic was charged with membership of a terror group on Monday and detained along with thousands of other suspected "Gulentists" awaiting trial.

Catkic was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of links to the group founded by US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Ankara of being behind last year's failed coup. 

The former footballer, 42, is accused of communicating through the Bylock messaging app, which Turkish authorities suspect was used by plotters behind the July putsch attempt, Dogan news agency reported.

He has also been charged with investing $1 million in Bank Asya, a finance house owned by Gulenists.

Ankara accuses Gulen, a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of leading an outlawed organisation -branded the "Fethullah Terror Group' [FETO]" by pro-government media - and of orchestrating anti-government activities.

Turkey insists that Gulen should be extradited to face trial.

Catkic is not the only footballer who has been swept up by Ankara's crackdown, with authorities having also issued an arrest warrant for former star Hakan Sukur.

Sukur, who now lives in the US, played a key role in Turkey achieving a third-place finish in the 2002 World Cup.

Last year, Turkey issued an arrest warrant for former Galatasaray and national team star Ismail Demiriz. The footballer was released in February.

Former Turkey international Bekir Irtegun was detained in July on similar charges as Demiriz and then freed with travel restrictions.

Around 100,000 people have either been arrested or fired in Turkey since July last year, as authorities look to expel any alleged anti-establishment elements.

Critics have claimed that the crackdown goes well beyond the suspected coup plotters and targets anyone who has dared show opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.