A former NBA star on Monday slammed a Turkish-born basketball player's claim that "fears of being assassinated by Turkey" were keeping him from traveling abroad, calling it part of a "political smear campaign" by the player, who has publicly aligned himself with the FETÖ terror group.
"It is obvious that this person's remarks are irrational and distort the truth," Hidayet "Hedo" Türkoğlu, who played 15 years for the NBA and heads the Turkish Basketball Federation, wrote on Twitter.
"I received with concern the news about the delusions targeting the Republic of Turkey of Enes Kanter, who pledged loyalty to the ringleader of Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), and his statement that he would miss the game in London due to fears of being assassinated by Turkey," added Türkoğlu.
"We know that he has not been able to travel to many countries due to visa issues since 2017. In other words, Kanter cannot enter the U.K., not because of fears for life as he claims but due to passport and visa issues. This being the long-known truth, he is trying to get the limelight with irrational justifications and political remarks," he said.
"Such remarks constitute another example of the political smear campaign Kanter has been conducting against Turkey as well as his efforts to attribute importance to himself by covering up the contradictions in his sports career," he added.
"Kanter not only targeted the Republic of Turkey, governed by the rule of law, with unjust accusations but he also regarded the British security forces as weak and attempted to harm Turkish-British relations," he added.
In 2017, prosecutors demanded a jail term of up to four years and eight months for U.S. resident Kanter, who is accused of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Twitter.
After the July 2016 defeated coup attempt, Oklahoma City Thunder player Kanter wrote on social media that he was openly supporting Fetullah Gulen -- the U.S.-based leader of Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which orchestrated the defeated coup that left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Türkoğlu, a former member of the Turkish National Basketball Team who played eight seasons for the Orlando Magic and other teams, became head of the Turkish Basketball Federation in 2015.