Thunder star Enes Kanter has been detained in Romania after the Turkish government canceled his passport. Kanter has been a vocal critic of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and has received death threats for his criticism in the past, including the aftermath of the failed coup in 2016. In a video posted from the airport in Romania, Kanter lays the blame directly on Erdogan in response to the NBA star’s politics:
“He’s attacked people in Washington. He’s a bad, bad man,” Kanter said in the video. “He is a dictator and he’s the Hitler of our century.
“I will keep you posted guys, but just pray for us and I’ll tell you guys what’s going on.”
The attack in Washington references Erdogan’s security attacking peaceful protestors outside of the Turkish embassy in D.C. during his visit with President Trump this week.
I’m being held at Romanian airport by Police!! pic.twitter.com/uYZMBqKx54
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 20, 2017
It is not the first time that Kanter has faced a backlash from home in response to his outspoken nature. Back in August 2016, Kanter penned a letter revealing that his family effectively disowned him over his criticism:
“Today I lost my mother, father, brothers and sisters, my family and all my relatives,” Kanter wrote in the letter, which was translated to English. “My own father asked me to change my surname. My mother, who has given me life disowned me. My brothers and sisters with which we have grown together ignore me.”
Early reports did not look good for Kanter, with his deportation and arrest in Turkey almost a certainty. But ESPN reports that the Thunder have been working with league officials and others through the proper channels, with Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman reporting that Kanter’s assistant was “pretty optimistic” about getting the star back to the United States.
Fairly frightening stuff but hopefully it’ll have a positive ending.