According to a report from the Daily Sabah, the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office has filed an international arrest warrant for Knicks center Enes Kanter on charges of supporting a terrorist organization. The “terrorist” activities in question refer to Kanter’s longstanding and outspoken support for Fethullah Gülen, an exiled Turkish cleric now living in Pennsylvania who was accused by Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of engineering a coup in the summer of 2016. Kanter recently stayed home during his team’s trip to London out of fear for his life, and he was detained in Romania in 2017 after his passport was seized.
Turkish authorities are seeking an Interpol Red Notice, which is a formal request to U.S. authorities to extradite Kanter back to Turkey. This would only be done if the U.S. also believed he had committed a crime prosecutable by domestic authorities as well. Given that Gülen has been living in the U.S. for 20 years without being extradited, it is unlikely Kanter will be handed over. You never know, though!
The Sabah, a pro-Erdoğan publication, reports that “Kanter is also accused of funding the group, which is already implicated in a string of crimes, from the coup attempt that killed 251 people, to illegal wiretapping and money laundering.” Kanter responded to the news this morning:
Kanter’s pro-Gülen stance has irritated Turkish authorities for years, and they have sought a reported four-year sentence for him. His father formally disowned him in 2017 and was jailed for a week. Hedo Türkoğlu, the other most famous Turkish basketball player and an advisor to Erdoğan, chided him earlier this month for skipping the London trip. Yesterday, Kanter wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post on his situation:
Erdogan is a strongman, and I knew there would be a backlash for the things I’ve said about him and the Turkish government, but I didn’t know it would be like this. I receive many death threats. I used to love walking around New York City alone, but I can’t do that anymore. My friends and family in Turkey could be arrested just for talking to me. I was unable to attend the Human Rights Foundation’s Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway last year for the same reason that I’m not going to London.