Enes Kanter might have a new team in the Portland Trail Blazers, but his old obstacles still remain.
The Blazers center was not on or anywhere near the court as his team faced the Toronto Raptors on the road Friday due to fear of a “red notice” placed on him by the Turkish government for his criticism of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. If Kanter had crossed the border into Canada, he felt he would have risked arrest by INTERPOL.
Kanter acknowledged the unusual situation in classic fashion on Twitter.
Enes Kanter – OUT (Dictatorship) 🤦🏻♂️
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) March 2, 2019
The “red notice” was reportedly placed on Kanter in January, nearly two years after his passport was seized and he was detained at a Romanian airport. Since that incident, international travel has been a risky proposition for Kanter.
Enes Kanters’ fraught relationship with Turkey
Most recently, Kanter missed another game while with the New York Knicks earlier this season, skipping the team’s game against the Washington Wizards in London. Kanter and the team cited concerns that the big man would be at risk of political assassination by spies of Erdogan.
“Because of one dictator I can’t go out and do my job. Pretty sad,” Kanter said, per Blazers reporter Casey Holdahl.
Erdogan has been widely condemned as a dictator who the Washington Post editorial board says is turning Turkey into a totalitarian prison. Kanter is facing a four-year prison sentence from the regime, something unlikely to happen as long as he stays in the United States.
Kanter’s dissent stems from his support of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric living in Pennsylvania who Erdogan has accused of organizing a failed coup attempt against him in 2016. Kanter’s family, who live in Turkey, has disowned him, but his father has still been arrested and reportedly sentenced to 15 years in prison.
With his homeland completely off limits as long as Erdogan controls it, Kanter, who already holds a green card with the U.S., told reporters that he expects to become an American citizen by 2021.
Kanter says he expects his American citizenship will be approved by 2021, but until then, he’s something of a man without country.
— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) February 28, 2019
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