NBA star Enes Kanter lamented as “unbelievable” and “just sad” on Wednesday a report revealing that Turkish prosecutors were using the fact that a former banker followed him on Twitter as evidence of “terrorist” activities.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly demanded an Interpol “Red Notice” against Kanter, a Turkish national, for criticizing his Islamist government. A Voice of America report revealed Turkey to be the “most prolific abuser” of the Interpol Red Notice system, which requests that its members arrest any individual with a notice to their name and extradite them to the requesting country.
Kanter is a member of Hizmet, an Islamic movement led by Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, who Erdogan claims was responsible for the failed coup against him in 2016. The 78-year-old religious leader, a former Erdogan ally, denies involvement in the coup.
According to Nordic Monitor journalist Levent Kenez – former editor-in-chief of the banned Turkish journal Meydan – Kanter’s name came up in the trial of Murat Güçlü, a former specialist at Turkey’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) arrested in the aftermath of the 2016 coup for “illegal investigations” into corrupt practices in Erdogan’s government, according to the pro-Erdogan newspaper Sabah. Like nearly everyone rounded up following the coup, Güçlü is being tried on “terrorism” charges and accused of being a member of Hizmet, which Erdogan’s government refers to as the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization” (FETO).
Among the evidence prosecutors used to accuse Güçlü of terrorism was following Kanter on Twitter and the appearance of two news articles about Kanter in his internet history. Anadolu Agency, the Turkish state-run government, regularly publishes news articles about Kanter – including positive ones prior to the 2016 failed coup. As Kanter is a “terrorist,” prosecutors argued, the Twitter follow linked Güçlü to “terrorism.”
“The extraordinary document shows that prosecutors were unable to find anything illegal concerning Güçlü and the graft probe and therefore pursued absurd pretexts for prosecuting him by inventing new crimes that have no basis in law,” Kenez wrote.
Kanter – who has remained outspoken against Erdogan despite his regime arresting Mehmet Kanter, his father, and sentencing him to 15 years in prison – reacted to the Nordic Monitor report with dismay on Twitter.
This is just sad. I’m speechless. I really don’t know what to say.
– Nothing Good Comes Easy. https://t.co/u1CHX8iszV
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 23, 2019
Kanter’s father is currently embroiled in another legal proceeding, this time reportedly facing ten years in prison for ties to “terrorism,” with his son the only evidence against him
Erdogan’s police have detained over 110,000 people for “Gulenist” ties since the 2016 coup, firing thousands of others from government jobs and forcing many into exile. The legal proceedings used against suspected Gulenists are often secretive, but the little that the Turkish government reveals indicates a complete lack of due process or serious legal administration of justice. Andrew Brunson, an American Evangelical pastor arrested in 2016 for, among other things, being a “Gulenist,” told Breitbart News this week that, of the 30 or so individuals he shared a prison cell with during his two years in captivity, “not a single one of them was involved with anything to do with the coup.” Brunson shared prison cells only with other “Gulenists,” many who had no ties to the Hizmet movement at all, much less to the alleged political conspiracy.
Brunson escaped prison after President Donald Trump imposed harsh economic sanctions on Turkey for its violation of a U.S. citizen’s human rights. He stood accused of being a “Gulenist,” a supporter of the Marxist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and of “Christianization.” Like the Güçlü case, Turkish prosecutors used a haphazard collection of weak links and unsubstantiated claims to accuse Brunson of terrorism.
Turkish government media openly refer to Kanter, a center for the Boston Celtics, as a “terrorist,” without providing any evidence that he has engaged in violent behavior.
“Enes Kanter clearly supports the head of terrorist organization. l won’t send any messages to the supporters of terrorist organizations,” Hidayet Turkoglu, head of the Turkish Basketball Federation, said in September.
The government-run Anadolu news agency, which printed Turkoglu’s comments, also accused Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey of endorsing terrorism last week for retweeting Kanter.
The founder of Twitter took a political position against Turkey by retweeting NBA player Enes Kanter, a wanted terrorist in Turkey for his links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO),” Anadolu reported.
The tweet in question listed the many ways that Erdogan has persecuted Kanter, followed by the message “FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.” In the context of the growing NBA controversy over Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressing support for anti-communist protests in Hong Kong, many interpreted Kanter’s tweet as a direct response to LeBron James, who dismissed Morey as “uneducated” for defending democracy.
Kanter and James have clashed in the past; Kanter referred to James derisively as “princess” in response to a perceived insult at New York Knicks rookie Frank Ntilikina in 2017, when Kanter was still on that team.
Kanter has continued to criticize Erdogan’s government for attacking minorities in Turkey and silencing media outlets. In an appearance on CNN on Tuesday, Kanter said Erdogan “has no respect for human rights” and reiterated his description of the Islamist leader as “the Hitler of our century.”