Celtics center Enes Kanter, a longtime critic of the Turkish government, announced Friday that his father had been freed after spending seven years as a political prisoner.
“Wow! I could cry,” Kanter tweeted. “Today I found out that 7 years after arresting my dad, taking him through a Kangaroo court and accusing him of being a criminal just because he is my dad.
“MY DAD HAS BEEN RELEASED! This is due to the pressure we have put on the Turkish regime.”
Kanter’s father, a genetics professor who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for allegedly supporting the leader of a coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was acquitted of terrorism charges Thursday.
Kanter, 28, who once called Erdogan the “Hitler of our century,” had an arrest warrant issued against him by the Turkish government in 2017 and had his Turkish passport cancelled, with accusations of being part of a terror group. While playing for the Knicks in 2019, Kanter declined making a trip for a game in London, fearing he could be assassinated by Turkish spies.
Kanter, the third overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, has long used his platform to direct attention to the authoritarian regime in his homeland.
Kanter, who recently tweeted that he will be eligible to become a US citizen next June, said in October that he faced harassment from Erdogan supporters outside a mosque in Boston.
“What I’m doing is huge because I’m talking about human rights,” Kanter said then. “I’m talking about democracy, freedom, freedom of speech, religion and expression. I’m talking about justice.
“So just because I’m talking about these issues and that stuff, I’m going to get threats? [Then] I’ll take that. I’ll be OK having security next to me 24/7. But those issues that I’m talking about are way bigger than myself and basketball.”U