Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter on Monday said Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was suing him and asking for his arrest over charges of “insulting the president.’’
The 28-year-old Trailblazers centre shared an image of the alleged lawsuit on Twitter, signed off by the Los Angeles Turkish Consulate General.
Kanter, a vocal critic of Erdoğan, is accused by the Turkish government of being a follower of exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara accuses of masterminding the failed coup attempt of July 2016.
Followers of Gülen, known as the Gülen movement, are designated a terrorist organisation by the Turkish government. Kanter is an open follower of Gülen, but, along with other Gülenists, denies these terror charges.
“His skin is thinner than an onion,’’ Kanter said Monday, adding that it appeared as though he had “hurt the feelings’’ of President Erdoğan.
The Turkish government in 2017 revoked Kanter’s passport and later issued a warrant for his arrest in 2019 on terror charges. The NBA athlete, who claims he receives death threats regularly from Erdoğan supporters, hasn’t been back to Turkey in years, citing security concerns.
Insulting the president is a crime according to Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.
Investigations and convictions on Article 299 have skyrocketed since Erdoğan stepped into office as president in 2014.