The Turkish government is looking to bring New York Knick’s Enes Kanter to Turkey to face charges of Terrorism. The charges are supposedly based on Kanter’s vehiment opposition to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They could also be because of his ties to Fetullah Gulen. Gulen is the scholar/activist/preacher who founded the Gulen Movement, and whom President Erdogan claims was behind a failed coup attempt against his administration in 2016.
The Turkish paper Sabah asserts Erdogan’s regime is processing a request to extradite Kanter back to Turkey. Kanter, out of fear for his own safety, has chosen to remain in the U.S. while the rest of the Knicks travel to London this week to play against the Wizards.
Enes Kanter claps back
While it is not clear what concrete evidence there would be to connect Kanter to actual terrorist activities, Kanter is sure that the supposition that he is an enemy of Turkey could lead to his assasination.
“They’ve got a lot of spies there,” he said. “I think I can get killed there easy. It would be a very ugly situation.”
However, Kanter made it clear that he would not be intimidated into silence. He clarified that he would not be making the trip to play overseas with his teammates due to safety concerns: “My decision not to travel to London was difficult from a competitive standpoint but much easier from a safety one… It helps puts a spotlight on how a dictator is wrecking Turkey — people have been killed, thousands are unjustly imprisoned, and countless lives have been ruined. That is no game.”
In direct response to the his arrest warrant, Kanter tweeted:
It is unclear whether the U.S. would consider extraditing Kanter back to Turkey. In the mean time, Kanter continues to be contentiously at odds with his homeland, and more specifically, with President Erdogan.