Celtics' Enes Kanter Says Father Mehmet Has Been Released from Turkish Prison

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2020

Boston Celtics' Enes Kanter plays against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March, 8, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter said Friday that his father has been released from prison in Turkey:

Enes Kanter @EnesKanter

1) Wow! I could cry 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.

Enes Kanter @EnesKanter

2) They no longer could keep him from his freedom because of the spotlight that we all put on this case! 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!

Enes Kanter @EnesKanter

3) This proves that the voice of the people will always push Dictators to do the right thing in the end. Don't be scared to stand for what is right, always and always, Stand for FREEDOM Stand for DEMOCRACY Stand for HUMAN RIGHTS

Kanter said his father's release was "due to the pressure we have put on the Turkish regime" and added: "This proves that the voice of the people will always push Dictators to do the right thing in the end."

While Kanter said Friday that his father, Mehmet Kanter, was arrested seven years ago, it was three years ago that he first discussed the actions taken against his father by the Turkish government:

Enes Kanter @EnesKanter

HEY WORLD MY DAD HAS BEEN ARRESTED by Turkish government and the Hitler of our century He is potentially to get tortured as thousand others

Erik Horne @ErikHorneOK

Enes Kanter has released a statement on his website https://t.co/xxxrMss3Go about his father's arrest in Turkey: https://t.co/PjWHLAR6vs https://t.co/CyQAK3Ooin

In a statement he released at the time, Kanter said his own "outspoken criticism of the ruling party" led to his father's imprisonment.

In 2017, the Daily Sabah (h/t A.J. Perez of USA Today) reported a warrant had been issued for Enes' arrest in Turkey over alleged involvement in a terrorist organization opposing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kanter has been a supporter of Fethullah Gulen, who was accused of leading a failed coup in Turkey in 2016. Gulen has denied any involvement.

The BBC reported that in August 2016, Mehmet Kanter disowned Enes in the Daily Sabah—described as a "pro-government newspaper"—because of Enes' support for Gulen.

Back in May 2017, Kanter posted a video on Twitter in which he said he was being held at an airport in Romania after his Turkish passport had been canceled:

Enes Kanter @EnesKanter

I'm being held at Romanian airport by Police!! https://t.co/uYZMBqKx54

Kanter was eventually released and made it back to the United States, where he said he wanted to become an American citizen.

Ever since he was held in Romania, Kanter has been cautious about where and when he travels. When he was a member of the New York Knicks last year, he did not make a trip to London to face the Washington Wizards because of concerns for his safety.

The 28-year-old is in the midst of his ninth NBA season and his first with the Celtics after previous stints as a member of the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers.

Kanter is averaging 8.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for a Celtics team that is third in the Eastern Conference at 43-21. Boston figures to be contenders in the East if the 2019-20 NBA season returns amid the coronavirus pandemic.