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Turkey ‘seeks arrest warrant for NBA player Enes Kanter’

Kanter refused to travel to London for an NBA game, saying he feared he could be killed for his opposition to Turkey’s president.


New York Knicks player Enes Kanter, centre (Mark J Terrill)

New York Knicks player Enes Kanter, centre (Mark J Terrill)

New York Knicks player Enes Kanter, centre (Mark J Terrill)

Turkish prosecutors are reportedly seeking an international arrest warrant for basketball player Enes Kanter, accusing the NBA star of membership in a terror organisation.

The Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office has also prepared an extradition request for the New York Knicks player, the Sabah newspaper said.

Kanter, who did not go with the Knicks this week for their game in London because he feared he could be killed over his opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, responded on Twitter that the Turkish government could not present “any single piece of evidence of my wrongdoing”.

“I don’t even have a parking ticket in the US,” he wrote.

Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Mr Erdogan, and his Turkish passport was revoked in 2017.

This time, Sabah said prosecutors are seeking an Interpol Red Notice, citing Kanter’s ties to exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for a failed coup in 2016, and accusing him of providing financial support to his group.

Kanter said he feared being killed if he left the US or Canada when he announced last week that he would not travel with the Knicks, who play the Washington Wizards at The O2 Arena on Thursday.

The team said at the time Kanter would not make the trip because of a visa issue.

Kanter denied that was the problem, even posting a photo of a travel document on social media, and made it clear his issue was his safety because of Mr Erdogan, whom he has referred to as “the Hitler of our century”.

“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.”

While the Knicks are overseas, Kanter has posted a number of photos of himself meeting with US congressmen.

He also wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post explaining his decision and his reasons for standing against Mr Erdogan.

“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.”