Prosecutors in Turkey are reportedly seeking to imprison a New York Knicks’ star for four years — because he apparently hurt thin-skinned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s feelings with his sharply worded tweets, according to the country’s state-run news agency.
Enes Kanter, who is of Turkish descent, apparently criticized the foreign despot on social media. He is also a vocal supporter of exiled cleric and Erdogan opponent Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government blames for the failed 2016 coup attempt.
Last year, when the 25-year-old was playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder, authorities detained him at Bucharest airport in Romania after the Turkish government canceled his passport. In fact, the athlete was only able to return to the United States after the intervention from Homeland Security, Oklahoma City Thunder lawyers, the NBA and Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, to name a few.
In a viral video, which he shot at the airport, Kanter famously referred to Erdogan as “the Hitler of our century.”
“Right now I am country-less,” Kanter said at the time. “I am open to adoption definitely. I am going to try to become an American citizen. I have a green card. We will see if they can speed up the process a little bit. It would definitely be nice. Right now my next move is becoming an American citizen.”
Although his father has disowned him over his political beliefs, Kanter said the government arrested his dad in June for what he believes was retaliation for his criticism. The rest of Kanter’s family remains in Turkey.
Meanwhile, Kanter is not particularly concerned about the trial, which would be held in absentia.
“I was like, ‘That’s it? Only four years?’ All the trash I’ve been talking?” Kanter told the New York Post. “I’m just trying to be the voice of all of these innocent people, man. Journalists, innocent people in jail getting tortured and killed and kidnapped.”
He further said he hopes to make it to the playoffs just so he could irritate Erdogan.
“That stuff really don’t bother me because I’m used to it,” the NBA player added. “I think it’s just nothing to me, man. I’m in America. I’m good and my focus right now is just going out there, playing basketball, have fun with my teammates and just winning and just thinking about playoffs.”