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Father of Turkish NBA player Kanter acquitted of terrorism links

ANKARA (Reuters) - NBA center Enes Kanter, an outspoken critic of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, said on Friday his father had been acquitted of charges that he was a member of a terrorist group.

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Mehmet Kanter, the father and a genetics professor in Turkey, was alleged to have supported U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who Turkey accuses of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016. Gulen denies any connection with the matter.

Enes Kanter, a 28-year-old center for the Boston Celtics in the NBA, himself was indicted in Turkey in 2018 on charges of belonging to an armed terrorist group, which he denies. He is awaiting U.S. citizenship.

“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,” Enes Kanter said on Twitter.

Enes, who has lived mainly in the United States for more than a decade, describes himself as a close ally of Gulen. Thousands of Gulen’s followers were arrested or fired from their jobs in Turkey after the abortive coup.

“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!” Kanter said.

Turkey revoked Kanter’s passport in 2017 and he has since been unable to travel abroad.

Mehmet Kanter was fired from his faculty position at Istanbul University and initially jailed for five days, Birgun newspaper reported. He was acquitted on Thursday by a court in northwestern Turkey, local media said. The court did not immediately respond to a query from Reuters.

Enes Kanter’s parents publicly disowned him through a Turkish publication back in 2016, soon after the coup attempt.

“As soon as they are in contact with me, they (Turkish authorities) would put them in jail,” Kanter has repeatedly said.

Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Mark Heinrich

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