Turkey Wants to Throw NBA Player in Jail

Enes Kanter brushes off charges of insulting Turkey's president
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2017 6:01 AM CST
New York Knicks center Enes Kanter is seen during a game against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 9.   (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

(Newser) – New York Knicks center Enes Kanter took news that prosecutors in Turkey want to imprison him about as well as a person could. "Four years? That's it?" he said on Wednesday, per the New York Times. "For all of the trash I've been talking?" Turkish media reported earlier Wednesday that the "fugitive" would be tried in absentia on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with prosecutors seeking four years in prison, reports Hurriyet Daily News. Kanter—who was born to Turkish parents in Switzerland and grew up in Turkey before moving to the US—is a vocal supporter of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who's been blamed for last year's failed military coup in Turkey, reports ESPN. He continued to bash the leader Wednesday, telling reporters he's a "maniac."

"I'm just trying to be the voice of all of these innocent people," said Kanter, who hasn't visited Turkey in years, per the Times. "Journalists, innocent people in jail getting tortured and killed and kidnapped. And it's pretty messed up." The first sign of Turkey's displeasure at his comments came in May, when Kanter's Turkish passport was canceled. He was temporarily detained in Romania before US officials intervened. Kanter has said his family home in Turkey was also raided. The New York Daily News reports Kanter's father publicly disowned him while apologizing to Erdogan in August. The charges now laid against Kanter are "just nothing to me, man, because I'm in America. I'm good," Kanter said. "It's a free country. But it's not like that in Turkey." Acknowledging laws banning criticism of Erdogan, he added, "They can do whatever they want to do."

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