Enes Kanter said that his dad had been fighting with the Turkish government for seven years

By Georgia Slater
June 19, 2020 04:33 PM
Enes Kanter
Credit: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

Enes Kanter is calling for justice for those still imprisoned in Turkey after his father was recently released from being a political prisoner.

On Friday, the center for the Boston Celtics announced on Twitter that Kanter's father, Mehmet Kanter, had been acquitted of charges that he was a member of a terrorist organization.

"Wow! I could cry ... Today I found out that 7 years after arresting my dad, taking him through a Kangaroo court and accusing him of being a criminal just because he is my dad. MY DAD HAS BEEN RELEASED!" Kanter, 28, wrote. "This is due to the pressure we have put on the Turkish regime."

The elder Kanter, who is a genetics professor in Turkey, was indicted by a Turkish court for "membership in a terror group" and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

"My fight is NOT over. It’s just getting started," the basketball star tells PEOPLE in a statement. "I will NOT stop until every innocent soul in Turkish prisons is set free‬. They freed my dad because they are SCARED of my voice!‬ ‪There are thousands of others out there with a worse situation than mine. ‪So let’s keep fighting against Dictators‬."

"They no longer could keep him from his freedom because of the spotlight we all put on this case! However! He is just one person, there are still tens of thousands of people wrongfully in jail in Turkey. I will not forget you, we will not forget you!" Enes vowed in a tweet.

The basketball player continued, "This proves that the voice of the people will always push Dictators to do the right thing in the end. Don't be scared to stand for what is right, always and always ... Stand for FREEDOM, Stand for DEMOCRACY, Stand for HUMAN RIGHTS."

Kanter has been outspoken in his criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been accused of human rights abuses, and was also indicted on similar charges.

In 2017, Turkey revoked the basketball player's passport and he has since been able to go abroad.

The athlete recently launched a Change.org petition to free political prisoners in Turkey entitled "You Are My Hope," a spokesperson for Kanter tells PEOPLE.

Enes Kanter
Enes Kanter with his former team
| Credit: Rocky Widner/Getty Images

"I'm asking you to listen to your conscience and hear the cries of the voiceless. Please stop this man in the name of democracy, justice, and humanity," Enes wrote on the campaign of President Erdoğan.

"Take a step and put your name below to be on the right side of history. Do not forget the thousands who need your voice," he added.

Nearly 60,000 people have signed Enes' petition and he has received video support from politicians including Tulsi Gabbard, Senator Chuck Grassley, Congressman Pete King, Congressman Eric Swalwell, Congressman Seth Moulton, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and others.