Enes Kanter says father held in Turkey 'because of my criticism of the ruling party'

Kanter 'devastated' by father's arrest in Turkey (4:50)

Thunder center Enes Kanter speaks to OTL about the arrest of his father, Mehmet, who is awaiting interrogation by the Turkish government. (4:50)

With a warrant out for his own arrest in Turkey, Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter said Friday that his father, Mehmet, has been arrested by the Turkish government.

Mehmet Kanter was detained in his Istanbul home for an investigation undertaken by a prosecutor's office in northwestern Turkey, according to the Anadolu news agency.

Enes Kanter released a statement saying his father is being held because of his political views and that he may be tortured "simply for being my family member."

"My father is arrested because of my outspoken criticism of the ruling party. He may get tortured for simply being my family member," Kanter said. "For a second please think and imagine, if something like this is happening to an NBA player, what is happening to the people with no voice or podium to speak on? There could be hundreds of thousands of people that are detained, tortured, or murdered that we are not hearing about."

According to Anadolu, Mehmet Kanter is being sent to Tekirdag province for questioning. In Turkey, people are detained, then prosecutors may seek an arrest pending trial or release the detainee.

Enes Kanter is an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a known supporter of Fethullah Gulen, a spiritual leader who has lived in exile in Pennsylvania for the past 15 years. The Turkish government blamed Gulen for an attempted military coup last summer, though Gulen denies involvement.

In his statement, Kanter attributed his support of Gulen as the reason for his father's detainment.

"The police raided our home in Istanbul, something that is happening to many innocent families across Turkey just because they are members of Hizmet, inspired by Scholar Fethullah Gulen," Kanter said.

Last summer, Mehmet Kanter told the Daily Sabah, a pro-government newspaper in Turkey, that his family had disowned Enes Kanter because of his political views.

"I apologize to the Turkish people and the president for having such a son," Mehmet Kanter wrote.

Enes Kanter said recently that he has not spoken with his father in almost two years.

Last week, the Turkish government issued a warrant for Kanter, claiming he was part of a terrorist group. He was briefly detained by airport officials in Romania on May 20 after having his passport revoked by the Turkish government. Kanter was able to return to the United States on May 22 with a green card. But due to the warrant, he will likely be unable to travel internationally.

During interviews after returning to the U.S., Kanter said his father, a former college professor, had been spit on at the grocery store because of his son.

"Right now, even if I try to communicate with my parents, my mom or dad or brother or sister, [the government] will probably listen to their phones and as soon as they are in contact with me, they will put them in a jail -- and the jails are not fun," Kanter said at a news conference. "Right now, my family can't even go out to eat. My brother told me that my dad went to the supermarket and they spit on his face."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.