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Enes Kanter says his father's been released from Turkish prison: 'I could cry'

Enes Kanter announced on Friday that his father, Mehmet Kanter, has been released from a Turkish prison after seven years.

The Boston Celtics center who grew up in Turkey after being born in Switzerland once played for the Turkish National Team. Since 2013, Kanter has spoken out against Turkish dictator and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling him “the Hitler of our century” in 2017.

He believes that his father was imprisoned because of his relationship with him.

‘My dad has been released!’

Kanter acknowledged his followers for help raising political awareness and urged them to keep the pressure on for the “tens of thousands of people wrongfully in jail in Turkey.”

Kanter had refused to leave the United States

Kanter claims no country as he seeks American citizenship. He’ll be eligible for U.S. citizenship in 2021. The eight-year NBA veteran had declined to travel to Canada for road games against the Toronto Raptors out of fear that he would lose the protections he’s granted in the United States and be arrested and deported to Turkey.

Kanter traveled to Toronto for the Celtics’ game against the Raptors last Christmas and wrote an opinion piece for the Globe and Mail thanking the Canadian government for ensuring his safety as Turkey’s government continued to seek his arrest.

Enes Kanter urged his followers to keep standing for freedom, democracy and human rights while announcing his father's freedom. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Kanter says he’s still being harassed

Kanter’s father had faced a 15-year prison sentence for his association with Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish scholar and Islamic cleric accused of staging a failed coup against the Erdogan regime in 2016. Kanter is an outspoken supporter of Gulen and fears his own imprisonment and potential death at the hands of the Turkish government.

In October he tweeted video from outside a Boston mosque alongside teammate Tacko Fall claiming that Erdogan ‘thugs attacked and threatened me.”

Kanter is in his first season with the Celtics and is slated to resume playing when the NBA season restarts at Disney World.

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