Trail Blazers’ Kanter, former teammate Turkoglu spar again about Turkey’s government

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The volatile, longstanding dispute between Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter and Turkish government officials has added another chapter, this time in separate interviews conducted by E:60’s Jeremy Schaap, with Kanter again comparing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to a dictator, and former NBA player Hedo Turkoglu, now a Turkish government official, accusing Kanter of abandoning his homeland to support a “terrorist.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The on-camera interview with Turkoglu — now a chief adviser to Erdogan — is the first with American media about Kanter. Turkoglu, who played with several NBA teams, including the Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs, played with Kanter on the 2011 Turkish national team. He is also head of the Turkish Basketball Federation. The interviews aired Sunday morning.

Turkoglu spoke carefully and deliberately to Schaap, saying that Kanter has been “openly supporting a terrorist leader” — Fethullah Gulen. Gulen is a U.S.-based Turkish cleric who has been living in exile from Turkey since 1999; he is Kanter’s spiritual adviser and a bitter rival of Erdogan’s. The Turkish government has accused Gulen of masterminding a failed military coup in the country in 2016. Gulen has denied the allegation, and the U.S. government has rejected Turkey’s requests to extradite him from his home in Pennsylvania.10

In the 32-minute E:60 interview, Turkoglu only referenced Kanter by name once and said he had nothing to say to his former teammate: “I don’t send messages to terrorist organization supporters.” In response to a question about how Americans should view the saga between Kanter and Turkish government officials, Turkoglu said: “All I have to say to all my American fellows, be careful.”

Erdogan and Gulen were once political allies, but after a 2013 corruption scandal reached all the way to Erdogan and his family, Erdogan blamed Gulen for having a role in exposing the scandal, and their relationship fractured. Kanter has been an outspoken critic of the Turkish government and Erdogan since.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Kanter, who has played for the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks, frequently has been quoted saying Erdogan is the “Hitler of our century.” In December 2017, Turkey’s state-run news agency, Anadolu Agency, reported that Kanter faces more than four years in prison for insulting Erdogan and Turkoglu in a series of tweets posted in 2016. In May 2017, Kanter’s Turkish passport was canceled while traveling overseas. He ultimately was able to return to the United States through London. A few weeks later, Kanter’s parents’ home was raided, and his father, Mehmet, was taken into custody and charged with being a member of a terrorist group. Enes Kanter believes the Turkish government targeted his father, a genetics professor, because of the player’s critical stance against the country’s government.