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NBA player Enes Kanter's father released from Turkish prison: 'I could cry'


'This is due to the pressure we have put on the Turkish regime'

Enes Kanter #11 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

The father of Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter has been released from prison in Turkey, seven years after his first arrest, which was followed by a long battle with the country's authoritarian government, ESPN reported.

The NBA center's father, Mehmet Kanter, had most recently been sentenced to 15 years in prison in June 2018. The arrest was allegedly related to Mehmet's connection to a man blamed for a failed military coup, but Enes Kanter has long maintained that the Turkish government is punishing Mehmet for his son's outspoken opposition of dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Wow! I could cry," Kanter wrote on Twitter. "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."

Mehmet Kanter was acquitted of terrorism charges Thursday. He had been fired from his faculty position at Istanbul University over the charges. Enes Kanter's parents had to disown him publicly in 2016 for their own safety, as any suspicion that they were in contact with Enes could land them in jail.

Turkish authorities have tried to detain Enes Kanter in the past, and now he rarely travels outside the United States over fear that he may be deported to Turkey. Turkish prosecutors have sought international arrest warrants for him for his ties to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkish officials blame for the coup attempt.

"They no longer could keep him from his freedom because of the spotlight that we all put on this case!" Kanter wrote. "However! He is just one person, there are still tens of thousands of people wrongfully in jail in Turkey. I will not forget. You, we will not forget you!"

Kanter tweeted Monday that he will be eligible to officially become a U.S. citizen on June 15, 2021, ESPN reported.

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