A Turkish court has begun extradition proceedings for Turkish former international football player Arif Erdem, who faces a possible 15-year prison sentence in Turkey for alleged membership of the outlawed Gülen religious movement, Turkish news site Diken reported.
A warrant to detain Erdem was issued in July 2016, days after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government survived a coup attempt allegedly carried out by members of the Gülen movement. Erdem is said to have fled across the border shortly afterwards, and according to reports currently resides in Greece.
Erdem is one of several Turkish footballers allegedly involved with the movement, which the Turkish government classifies as a terrorist organisation. He has denied “being a part of any terrorist organisation or any organisation that would do the slightest harm to (his) nation and my homeland.”
Erdem, who was capped 60 times for Turkey’s international team, spent the majority of his playing career as a forward for Istanbul team Galatasaray, winning the UEFA cup with them in 2000.