KURDISH footballer Deniz Naki said he “feared for his life” after being shot at while driving along a motorway in Germany last night.
The German-born player was on the autobahn near the town of Duren when shots were fired from a black car.
“I immediately ducked and then rolled right to the hard shoulder,” he told German newspaper Die Welt. “I feared for my life.”
Prosecutors have confirmed that they are treating the incident as attempted murder.
Mr Naki believes that the shooting was “politically motivated” due to his outspoken support for Kurds and suspected involvement of Turkish security services.
“I assume it was an MIT (Turkey’s intelligence agency) agent or somebody else who doesn’t like my politics,” he said.
He is the club captain of Amedspor in the unofficial Kurdish capital of Diyarbakir which plays in the third tier of Turkey’s Super League.
Mr Naki had previously left Turkey after being subjected to a racist attack in Ankara after expressing support for the Kurdish-held Syrian city of Kobane at the time it was under siege by Isis.
Three men approached him and said “Are you that dirty Kurd? Are you Deniz Naki?”
“Damn your Kobane, damn your Sinjar,” they said as they punched him.
“Was the first warning not enough? This is your second and last warning. Leave this country, leave this city, leave this football club [Genclerbirligi].”
Last year he was sentenced to more than 18 months in prison, suspended for five years, for “spreading terrorist propaganda” on social media.
His posts included criticism of the military curfew in Cizre and dedicating a 2-1 victory “to those who have lost their lives and been injured in the 50 days of oppression we face on our lands.” He was also handed a 12-match ban by the Turkish football authorities for the posts.
High-profile Turkish and Kurdish opposition figures have been on alert since People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MP Garo Paylan claimed to have received leaked intelligence reports of assassination plans targeting Turkish citizens living in Europe, especially Germany.
Mr Paylan claimed last month that assassins had been sent across Europe with a hit list including “academics, journalists, politicians and opinion leaders” who have spoken out against the Turkish government.
Mr Naki was unharmed in the attack and remained defiant. “I am still the same Deniz. Not afraid. Not even after this assassination attempt,” he said.
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