Enes Kanter detained, then released from a Romanian airport after his Turkish passport was 'canceled'

Enes Kanter. (Getty Images)
Enes Kanter. (Getty Images)

Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City Thunder center and Turkish native, was detained in a Romanian airport after the Turkish embassy reportedly “canceled” his passport on Saturday. The 25-year-old center, an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was previously in Indonesia for a stop on his Enes Kanter Light Foundation tour. He has since been released and is en route to London.

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According to the center, in a video posted on Saturday morning, authorities had “been holding us here for hours.”

Kanter blamed his passport’s seizure on his “political views,” mentioning Erdogan by name, calling him “a dictator” and “the Hitler of our century.”

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Erdogan, faulted for his human rights abuses as Turkish president, was recently warmly welcomed by President Donald Trump in a White House meeting marred by Erdogan’s security detail and their response to the protesters:

Kanter appeared to be taking his delay in stride:

Saturday is Kanter’s 25th birthday, which lead to this bittersweet Twitter notice:

The six-year pro’s support of 2016’s attempted military coup in Turkey and continued support of Fethullah Gülen and the Gülen movement cost him a great deal, his family moved to disown him and Kanter feels as if his anti-Erdogan critiques may have cost him a spot on the Turkish national team (Enes averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in only 21 minutes in 2016-17).

Kanter has not been shy in revealing that his political views have led to a series of death threats, and his troubles may not be over:

The center remained in “high spirits,” according to his representative, identified only as “Fetic” by the Oklahoman:

“To be honest, we’re pretty optimistic, just because of the situation,” Fetic said. “He’s in a European Union country.”


“They’re doing OK,” Fetic said. “The police and the people at the airport, they’re just doing their job. Once they get a notification that someone’s passport is stolen or canceled, they have to do the regular process. From my understanding, he said they’re being treated well so far. They’re trying to explain the situation to these people, why the passport is canceled, and this is pretty new, even in these years, that a government would intentionally try to cancel someone’s passport in order to bring them back.”

Later on Saturday, the New York Times reported Kanter’s release (via Deadspin):

“Today at around 1 p.m. local time an individual arrived from Frankfurt,” spokesman Fabian Badila told the Times. “My colleagues established that his travel documents weren’t valid, that they had been canceled by his home country, so he wasn’t allowed to enter the country. At around 5 p.m., he left the airport on a flight to London. While he was at the airport he wasn’t detained or locked up, he was allowed to wander around, but he couldn’t enter the country.”

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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