Turkish singer accused of having shoes autographed by NBA star Enes Kanter

Gökmen Ürü (L) and Enes Kanter.

Turkish singer Gökmen Ürü, for whom a detention warrant was issued by the Mardin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office as part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement, was accused of having basketball shoes bearing the autograph of NBA star and New York Knicks center Enes Kanter, who the Turkish government also seeks to arrest over links to the movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency (AA), following the issuance of the warrant, police teams launched an operation to detain singer Gökmen Ürü. The locations where Gökmen Ürü was assumed to be found were raided by the counterterrorism police on Sunday.

AA also reported that police teams seized the shoes signed by Kanter during a raid on a house in İstanbul belonging to Ürü.

Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Last year, AA reported that Turkish prosecutors had asked that Kanter be jailed for up to four years for allegedly insulting President Erdoğan.

The NBA player said he was only trying to lend a voice to innocent people and pledged to continue working on behalf of human rights in Turkey. Kanter’s passport was canceled by Turkish authorities in May 2017 and his Twitter account is currently banned in Turkey.

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 more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. 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.

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