ANKARA, Turkey (CBSNewYork/AP) — Prosecutors in Turkey are seeking more than four years in prison for Knicks player Enes Kanter on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country’s state-run news agency reported.
Anadolu Agency said an indictment prepared by the Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office accuses the NBA center of insulting the president in a series of tweets he posted in May and June 2016.
Kanter said he wasn’t concerned and continued his criticisms of Erdogan, saying, “That dude is a maniac.”
“That stuff really don’t bother me because I’m used to it,” Kanter said after the Knicks practiced Wednesday in New York.
“I think it’s just nothing to me, man. I’m in America. I’m good, and my focus right now is just going out there, playing basketball, have fun with my teammates and just winning and just thinking about playoffs.”
Kanter cannot return to Turkey because his passport has been canceled. He would be tried in absentia.
The player is a vocal supporter of Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric blamed by Turkey for last year’s failed military coup.
Kanter was detained in Romania on May 20. He said he was able to return to the United States after American officials intervened. He said his family remains in Turkey and he is concerned for them — he said his father at one point was jailed for a week — but he downplayed the situation otherwise.
“I was like, ‘That’s it? Only four years?’ All the trash I’ve been talking?” Kanter said. “I promise you guys, it doesn’t really bother me … a little bit because my thing is just going out there and playing basketball.”
Kanter has likened Erdogan to Adolf Hitler on multiple occasions. The basketball star has contended, among other things, that the coup attempt was actually staged by the Erdogan-led government.
“I call it the fake coup attempt,” Kanter told American reporters in May. “Last year, they did a fake coup attempt themselves, so they can control everything. So right now, the Erdogan government is controlling the army, controlling the police, controlling judges, controlling journalists, everything.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)