The drama between Enes Kanter and his home country of Turkey continues to escalate. According to Sabah newspaper, Turkish prosecutors are seeking an international arrest warrant for Kanter, accusing him of being a member of a terrorist organization. Kanter has been a longtime supporter of Fethullah Gulen, a cleric blamed for a failed coup of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.
Turkish officials are reportedly attempting to issue a “Red Notice” for Kanter, which allows Interpol to locate and arrest an individual pending extradition. For Kanter to be extradited, Turkey would have to convince the United States Kanter committed a crime prosecutable in the U.S. In a tweet this morning, Kanter responded to the report:
Turkish Government can NOT present any single piece of evidence of my wrongdoing. ????
I don’t even have a parking ticket in the US ? (True)
I have always been a law-abiding resident. ? https://t.co/DxLgvFcTST
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) January 16, 2019
Kanter, whose Turkish passport was revoked in 2017 over his support for Gulen, will not travel with the Knicks to play in London, England tomorrow over fear he could be killed. He explained the decision in an op-ed for The Washington Post yesterday.
On Thursday, I won’t be able to go to work when my team, the New York Knicks, plays the Washington Wizards in London. It is altogether too risky. Erdogan uses Interpol, the international law enforcement organization with 194 member nations, as a tool to have his critics arrested in other countries. I do not yet have U.S. citizenship or a U.S. passport, which could offer me protection, so I can’t risk traveling overseas.
Even if I did, I wouldn’t travel this week to Britain, where I easily could be kidnapped or killed by Turkish agents. Erdogan’s arms are long. He hunts down anyone who opposes him. In 2017, his security team — or thugs, as The Post’s editorial board described them — even beat up peaceful protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington.
The situation in Turkey has been very bad since a failed coup attempt in 2016. Erdogan unleashed a massive purge, firingmore than 100,000 public-sector workers and imprisoning more than 50,000 people. These people are not criminals. They include judges, academics and journalists. Erdogan thinks free speech is dangerous, and he accuses critics of being terrorists.
Anyone who speaks out against him is a target. I am definitely a target. And Erdogan wants me back in Turkey where he can silence me.
Yesterday, he met with Marco Rubio to discuss the situation:
Today I had the honor of meeting with @Enes_Kanter to discuss human rights abuses in #Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an. Moved by this young man’s bravery in standing up for the rights of his fellow Turkish citizens. pic.twitter.com/FZUZuhI2M6
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) January 15, 2019
Good for Enes for standing up for himself and his beliefs.