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After Charges Against Father, NBA Star Kanter Points to Thousands in Turkey’s Jails

Enes Kanter and his family have been going through turbulent times. The NBA star playing for New York Knicks appeared dismayed when the news about charges against his father in Turkey filtered through media.

On Tuesday, Turkish prosecutors sought up to 10 years in prison for Mehmet Kanter, who was a professor and dean of Department of Histology and Embryology at Istanbul Medeniyet University before being sacked by a government decree in late 2016.

He was briefly detained last year and later released pending trial.

“His dad is waiting for the court to summon him,” Hank Fetic, Enes Kanter’s manager, told Globe Post Turkey. “He will hire a lawyer, if he is sentenced then, of course, he has to go to jail for 10-15 years.”

“Enes is upset, but there is not much he can do,” Fetic said.

“Although my dad is being charged for a crime that does not exist, we should also be aware that Turkey has jailed over 20,000 women and 700 babies who do not have the same voice that I do. Let us not forget all the innocent people in jail,” Kanter said in a message through his manager.

The NBA star has been a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the past several years.

Prosecutors accuse his father of having links to the Gulen movement. The official charge is “membership in a terrorist organization.”

Though Kanter’s opposition presages the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, things went worse for him and his family after the botched putsch.

President Erdogan’s government unleashed a massive clampdown on the Gulen movement and affiliated sympathizers. The authorities designated the civil society movement as a terrorist group and remanded more than 150,000 people in prison on dubious charges.

Mehmet Kanter at courthouse last year. Photo: DHA

Last year, Kanter’s father disowned the NBA star.

“I apologize to the Turkish people and the president for having such a son,” he wrote at the time for the Erdogan-friendly Daily Sabah newspaper.

Nevertheless, it did not protect him from a court trial and purge.

After returning from a charity event last year, Enes had a tough time in Romania when police told him at the airport that his passport was revoked. With the U.S. intervention, he was allowed to fly to London. He returned to the U.S. without a problem. But later, Turkish prosecutors launched a probe against him on “terror charges.”

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