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NBA player's father indicted in Turkey in alleged retaliation for criticism of Erdogan regime

NBA player Enes Kanter's father has been indicted in Turkey, accused of being a member of a terror organization. Kanter, who has been a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, believes his father is innocent and has been targeted because of that criticism. (Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The father of Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter was indicted in Turkey on Monday, charged with "membership in a terrorist organization," according to Turkish media and ESPN reports.

Kanter, who has been a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government over the past few years, believes his father is innocent and has been targeted because of that criticism. Still, he vowed not to back down from his attacks.

"No matter what happens, I will continue to keep fighting for human rights and freedom of speech; justice and democracy above all," Kanter said in a statement to ESPN's Ian Begley. "I will stand for what I believe in. All I'm doing is trying to be the voice of all those innocent people."

What about the charges?

An investigation into Kanter's father, Mehmet Kanter, reportedly revealed that Mehmet allegedly had contacts with more than 100 people tied to a U.S-based cleric who the Turkish government has accused of masterminding a failed 2016 coup attempt.

If convicted, Mehmet could face up to 10 years in prison. He was previously detained for five days during the summer 2017. Enes's manager said Mehmet is not in Istanbul at this time, but could be arrested when he returns. It's unclear when the trial would begin.

What's the history of legal issues?

Enes Kanter, who plays for the New York Knicks, has had his own legal conflicts with the Turkish government. He was charged in December after insulting Erdogan on Twitter, and prosecutors are seeking four or more years in prison if he is convicted.

Enes's Turkish passport has been canceled and his Twitter account is blocked in Turkey.

Is this fallout from the failed coup?

The Kanters' issues are tied to a widespread trend of arrests and punishment of people tied to cleric Fethullah Gulen, according to ESPN:

Under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of the coup, Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 and sacked some 110,000 people alleged to have infiltrated state institutions for Gulen. The government said the crackdown was needed to fight alleged acts of terror.

One last thing…
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