Turkey wants to imprison this NBA player for insulting their president

Enes Kanter.
(Image credit: Elsa/Getty Images)

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the Turkish government wants to imprison Turkish-born NBA player Enes Kanter for insulting the country's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan's regime is now apparently pursuing Kanter for "humiliating" tweets about the president, and the government reportedly wants at least a four-year sentence for the New York Knicks center, who will be tried in absentia. In response to this news, Kanter tweeted in Turkish, "Add another four years for me, master."

In August 2016, Kanter tweeted his support for exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government blames for a failed coup d'etat last summer. This past May, he was detained in Romania after his Turkish passport was revoked, which he claimed was related to his vocal criticism of Erdogan. He was additionally not invited to play for the Turkish national basketball team in 2013 despite being one of Turkey's most prominent and successful basketball players, a snub he also attributed to his criticism of the Turkish government.

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Kanter's outspokenness has also frayed his relationship with his parents, who publicly disowned their son two summers ago. Shortly after Kanter's detainment in Romania, his estranged father was arrested in Turkey. In response, the center put out a statement accusing Erdogan — whom he has called "the Hitler of our century" — of punishing his father for his political views.

Kanter currently holds a U.S. green card, and has expressed interest in becoming a U.S. citizen.

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Kelly O'Meara Morales

Kelly O'Meara Morales is a staff writer at The Week. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and studied Middle Eastern history and nonfiction writing amongst other esoteric subjects. When not compulsively checking Twitter, he writes and records music, subsists on tacos, and watches basketball.