In a move that activists are calling a gross human rights violation, Turkish authorities have sentenced NBA player Enes Kanter in absentia to 25 years on the hapless New York Knicks.
The sentence comes after Kanter, an up-and-coming star, was convicted of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a series of tweets. It likely means the six-foot-eleven center will spend the rest of his career with a franchise that has won just one playoff series since the turn of the millennium.
“Since Erdoğan took power, we have seen torture, unlawful imprisonment, and even the murder of political opponents,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “But we have never witnessed, in Turkey or elsewhere in the world, anything this cruel.”
As of press time, Erdoğan’s opponent Fethullah Gülen, in exile in Pennsylvania, has offered to return to Turkey and surrender to authorities in exchange for a pardon for Kanter.