Enes Kanter has long been a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his authoritarian rule over his home country. As a result, it’s strained relations within his own family, who have been forced to more or less disavow their son amid fear of reprisal from the proto-fascist government.
And it hasn’t stopped there. Kanter has avoided international travel on multiple occasions this past season as he believes Turkish spies might make an attempt on his life, or at the very least, try to extradite him to his home country where Erdogan wants to have him brought up on unsubstantiated charges of terrorist affiliations.
Kanter missed the Knicks’ London trip earlier this season, as well as a road game in Toronto with the Blazers, who signed him at the February deadline. Now, an Oregon senator is finally taking measures to do something about the situation. On Friday, Ron Wyden sent a letter to the State Department asking for their protection.
“America cannot and must not stay silent in the face of such a blatant assault on free thought and expression. This is even truer when the perpetrators of such odious behavior are supposed friends and allies. Accordingly, I call on you to raise Mr. Kanter’s case, publicly and in private, and to state for the record that the U.S. will not cooperate with these ‘red notices’ or extradition requests.”
Kanter has also sparred publicly with retired NBA journeyman Hedo Turkoglu, himself a Turkish national, who is now a chief advisor to Erdogan and mouthpiece of the Turkish government.
Turkoglu has accused Kanter of being delusional, despite the fact that Kanter has received numerous death threats and in 2017 was detained at the Romanian airport after his passport was revoked at the behest of Erdogan. Perhaps now Kanter might be afforded some protection as he simply tries to go about his business as a NBA player without fear for his safety.