Warrant issued for Turkish basketball star

Warrant issued for Turkish basketball star

Turkey is seeking an international arrest warrant for New York Knicks forward Enes Kanter, accusing him of membership of a terrorist organisation.

Sabah reported that the Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office had prepared an extradition request for the basketball star.

Kanter said he did not travel this week for the Knicks’ game in London because he feared he could be assassinated over his opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“I talked to the front office and sadly I’m not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president,” Kanter posted. “There’s a chance I can get killed out there. That’s why I talked to the front office, and I’m not going so I’m just going to stay here and just practice here.”

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

The NBA player tweeted that Ankara had not presented “any single piece of evidence of my wrongdoing”.

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

Kanter has been vocal in his criticism of Erdogan and his Turkish passport was revoked in 2017. He has a US green card, allowing him to live and work in America on a permanent basis.

Sabah reported that prosecutors were seeking an Interpol red notice because of Kanter’s alleged ties to exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Erdogan blames his former ally for the botched coup in July 2016 and accuses Kanter of providing financial support to the Gulenist movement.

Kanter posted a photo of a travel document and blamed his absence on Erdogan, whom he called “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.”

Former Turkish basketball player Hedo Turkoglu, who is also a chief adviser to Erdogan, said Kanter was “trying to get in the limelight with irrational justifications and political remarks”.

An arrest warrant was issued for his father, Mehmet, in June last year after the university professor was accused of contacting a banned organisation.

More than 50,000 people have been jailed across Turkey in a massive crackdown by the government, following the 2016 coup attempt.

Forward Enes Kanter (centre). Picture credit: Wikimedia

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