Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter, an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the widespread human rights violations taking place under his rule, announced on Monday that he has been sued by Erdoğan on allegations of insult, Turkish Minute reported.
Kanter posted a photo of an official notice of the lawsuit sent to him by Turkey’s Consulate General in Los Angeles.
“DictatorErdogan is suing me and asking for my arrest for ‘Insulting him.’ His skin is thinner [than] an onion. Looks like I hurt RTErdogan feelings a little,” tweeted Kanter.
#DictatorErdogan is suing me and asking for my arrest for “Insulting him”.
His skin is thinner then an onion 😅
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) May 10, 2021
Kanter is an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s increasingly authoritarian policies and human rights record. Turkish prosecutors are seeking a four-year prison sentence for his alleged membership in the Gülen movement, a religious group inspired by US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen.
Turkey had revoked Kanter’s passport in 2017 and attempted to have him deported from Romania on May 20, 2017 during one of his international trips. His passport was briefly seized by the Romanian police upon a request from the Turkish government. The NBA said it had worked with the State Department to ensure Kanter’s release in Romania.
Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen strongly denies involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity. Following the allegations, he called on the Turkish government to allow for an international investigation.
According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on February 20, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the Gülen movement.
Thousands of people in Turkey are under investigation, and most of them are under the threat of imprisonment, over alleged insults of President Erdoğan. The insult cases generally stem from social media posts shared by Erdoğan opponents. The Turkish police and judiciary perceive even the most minor criticism of Erdoğan or his government as an insult.
Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey, according to the controversial Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Whoever insults the president can face up to four years in prison, a sentence that can be increased if the crime was committed through the mass media.