According to Sabah newspaper, Turkish prosecutors are seeking an international warrant for the arrest of New York Knicks center Enes Kanter, accusing the 26-year-old of taking part in a terrorist organization.
The warrant, known as an Interpol “Red Notice,” has been tabled by prosecutors as they believe Kanter was linked with Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim and US-based cleric who was blamed for a failed military coup to overthrow Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.
Over 50,000 people were arrested and are still awaiting trial.
Kanter has been a vocal critic of Erdogan, accusing the president of taking away free speech from his citizens.
It led to his Turkish passport being revoked in 2017 where Kanter was stranded in Romania. He went on to call Erdogan, who was the prime minister of Turkey from 2003-2014 before being named the president, “the Hitler of our century.”
“If you’re talking about human rights, if you’re talking about freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and democracy… the regime in Turkey is not going to like you,” Kanter said in an interview with NowThis earlier this week.
“You’re going to have a lot of haters.”
Kanter remains stateside while the Knicks are in London
In June of 2018, Kanter’s father — whom he hasn’t spoken to since 2015 — was indicted on terrorism charges after he was also linked to Gulen. Mehmet Kanter was detained back in 2017 while Enes was playing with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The chain of events has Kanter fearing for his life, as he believes there will be an attempt on his life should he leave the United States or Canada. He opted not to travel with the Knicks to London as they take on the Washington Wizards tonight at the O2 Arena.
The Knicks, who seemingly wanted to downplay the threat, cited that it was a visa issue that was keeping Kanter stateside. He was quick to rectify the claim in a piece for the Washington Post:
“My decision not to travel to London was difficult from a competitive standpoint but much easier from a safety one,” he wrote. “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.”
Kanter was acquired by the Knicks in the summer of 2017 where he has slowly fallen out of favor within a rebuilding franchise. His name has continuously come up in trade talks, including last week with the Sacramento Kings.