ISTANBUL — A Turkish court has accepted an indictment charging the father of NBA player Enes Kanter with “membership in a terror group,” the country’s official news agency reported Monday.

Kanter has said he believes the Turkish government has targeted his father in the past because of the player’s outspoken stance against the government and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kanter’s father is not in Turkey at the moment, according to the player’s manager, Hank Fetic, but could be detained when he returns.

The indictment followed an investigation of Mehmet Kanter, and prosecutors planned to seek his conviction and a prison term of five to 10 years at trial, Anadolu Agency said.

It’s unclear when the trial in western Tekirdag province would begin.

Enes Kanter, who plays for the New York Knicks, is a follower of a U.S.-based Turkish cleric whom the government accuses of masterminding a failed military coup in 2016. Cleric Fethullah Gulen has denied the allegation, but tens of thousands of people suspected of ties to his network have been arrested or fired.

The elder Kanter, a professor, was purged from public service after the coup attempt and detained for five days last summer.

Anadolu said the indictment alleges he contacted some 120 suspects with alleged links to Gulen, including dozens who were said to have communicated through an encrypted messaging application.

Enes Kanter, a former Oklahoma City Thunder center, has been a vocal critic of Erdogan. His Turkish passport was canceled last year.

“No matter what happens, I will continue to keep fighting for human rights and freedom of speech; justice and democracy above all,” Kanter said in a statement to ESPN’s Ian Begley. “I will stand for what I believe in. All I’m doing is trying to be the voice of all those innocent people.”

Prosecutors charged Kanter in December with insulting the president in a series of tweets. They want to try him in absentia and have him sentenced to more than four years in prison, if he is convicted.

“Keep my family, innocent people in your prayers,” the basketball player tweeted Monday with the hashtag “DictatorErdogan.” His Twitter account is withheld in Turkey.

Under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of the coup, Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 and sacked some 110,000 people alleged to have infiltrated state institutions for Gulen. The government said the crackdown was needed to fight alleged acts of terror.

ESPN’s Ian Begley contributed to this report.


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