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NBA star says he was detained overseas
01:20 - Source: CNN

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Mehmet Kanter is detained by security forces in Istanbul, his son Enes says

Enes Kanter is a supporter of a controversial exiled cleric

CNN  — 

The father of Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter has been detained “as a part of the ongoing investigation into FETO,” according to Turkey’s official news agency, Anadolu.

FETO is the Turkish government’s name for the followers of the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is in self-imposed exile in the United States. It stands for “Fethullah Terrorist Organization.” The government accuses Gulen and the Gulenists of being behind the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 15, 2016, that left more than 200 people dead.

According to Anadolu’s website, Mehmet Kanter, the father of the Oklahoma City Thunder center, has been detained by security forces in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district. He will be taken to the Tekirdag province after he is processed, the site says.

Kanter’s father has openly criticized his son and disowned him for being a follower of Gulen.

Enes Kanter alerted his fans on Twitter with the news.

“HEY WORLD,” Enes Kanter said. “MY DAD HAS BEEN ARRESTED by Turkish government.”

Later, he released a statement on his website, “My father is arrested because of my outspoken criticism of the ruling party. He may get tortured for simply being my family member.”

He urged people to think about others who don’t have famous relatives.

“For a second please think and imagine, if something like this is happening to an NBA player, what is happening to the people with no voice or podium to speak on?” he wrote.

Enes Kanter was stopped at a Romanian airport last month after the Turkish embassy canceled his passport. Enes Kanter posted a video on social media saying he believed he was being harassed because of his political views and his critical opinions of Erdogan.

Enes Kanter has repeatedly called Erdogan “the Hitler of our century.” The NBA player’s Twitter account has been blocked in Turkey.

With help from the Thunder, the NBA, homeland security and his lawyers, Enes Kanter returned to the United States and later addressed reporters in New York at the NBA Players Association headquarters.

“It was of course scary,” he said May 22. “It was scary because there was a chance they might send me back to Turkey. If they sent me back to Turkey, probably you guys would hear a word from me the second day. It would have definitely gotten really ugly.”

Enes Kanter told reporters that he isn’t able to communicate with his parents, saying they could be put in jail. He also said his family “can’t even go out to eat.”

“My brother told me that my dad goes to the supermarket and they spit on his face,” he said last month.

Enes Kanter, who stands 6 feet and 11 inches tall, said he has received death threats. He also said he’s going to try to become a US citizen and that he has a green card.

“Right now I’m countryless,” he said. “I’m open for adoption.”

CNN’s Steve Almasy and Hande Atay Alam contributed to this report.