NBA star Kanter: I was with Gülen on coup night, he was as shocked as we were

Professional basketball league (NBA) star Enes Kanter wrote an article for Time magazine saying that he was with Fethullah Gülen at his home in Pennsylvania on the night of the controversial coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, adding that he was “as shocked and fearful for Turkey” as the rest of the guests.

Turkish authorities accuse Gülen and his network, known as the Gülen movement, of orchestrating the coup attempt, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.

Fethullah Gülen

After the abortive putsch, the Turkish government started a crackdown on the followers of the Gülen movement, including NBA player Kanter’s father, who faces 10 years in prison on charges of membership in a “terrorist group.”

“This month, my dad will face trial in Turkey for ‘membership of a terror group.’ He is a university professor, not a terrorist,” Kanter wrote.

Kanter stated that he is unable to travel to Turkey to visit his hometown because he has spoken out against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who punished him and his family and relatives in response.

Regarding the accusations of that the Gülen movement orchestrated the coup, he added: “It is a crazy claim. I was with Gülen in his house in Pennsylvania that night, and he was as shocked and fearful for Turkey as the rest of us. We spent the night praying for our country.”

Kanter will be among the speakers at the Oslo Freedom Forum in New York on Sept. 17, 2018.

“In September, I’ll be attending the Oslo Freedom Forum in New York, presented by the Human Rights Foundation, to give voice to the silenced people of Turkey and to shed light on Erdogan’s crimes. Let’s all make sure to hold the world’s dictators accountable,” Kanter said.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. On December 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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