New York Knicks center Enes Kanter faces charges for insulting former Kings player and current Turkish political adviser Hedo Turkoglu, and may be tried in absentia in Turkey, EuroHoops reported Thursday.
The comments, made via social media, were considered to be “humiliating and hurtful” by the Istanbul Cyber Crimes Investigation Bureau in its indictment, according to Turkish newspaper Sabah, but were not referenced specifically. A prison term between one to four years is sought, and the case will be heard at the Assize Court without Kanter present.
Turkoglu has been CEO of the Turkish Basketball Federation since 2015 and a senior adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan since March 2016. Erdogan was the subject of an attempted military coup in July 2016.
Kanter was raised in Turkey, and Turkoglu, 38, became the first Turkish-born NBA player upon being drafted by the Kings in 2000 (first round, No. 16). Turkoglu, a forward, played 15 seasons in the league, including with Sacramento from 2000-2003.
Despite a 13-year age gap, Kanter and Turkoglu’s NBA tenure overlapped for about four years, from 2011 through the 2014-15 season.
In December, Kanter was also charged with insulting Erdogan, Sporting News reports, with four years of imprisonment sought in that case.
Kanter reacted to media reports of this week’s charges on Twitter, in Turkish, and tagged Turkoglu in his post, alongside a sarcastic “kiss” emoji.
Last May, Sabah reported that Turkish prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Kanter, charging him for “being a member of a terrorist organization.” Sabah’s story says the NBA player is known for expressing support for Fethullah Gulen via Twitter. Gulen, a preacher now living in the United States, is called a terrorist by the Turkish government and Sabah, considered by Turkish political leadership to be responsible for the 2016 coup attempt.
Kanter is a frequent Twitter user, and he sometimes discusses Turkish political and human rights issues on his page.
An ousted former bureau chief for Sabah noted that the publication has been overwhelmingly pro-government since its 2007 seizure by then-prime minster Erdogan, according to a 2009 Wall Street Journal story.