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NY Knicks’ Enes Kanter won’t travel to London for NBA game over assassination threats

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New York Knicks center Enes Kanter announced Friday that he will not be traveling to London for the NBA team’s upcoming game out of fear of a possible assassination attempt due to his opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Kanter, a Turkish native, told reporters he can’t travel anywhere except the U.S. and Canada because “there’s a chance I could get killed out there.”

“Sadly, I’m not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president,” Kanter said. “It’s pretty sad that all the stuff affects my career and basketball, because I want to be out there and help my team win. But just because of the one lunatic guy, one maniac, one dictator, I can’t even go out there and do my job. It’s pretty sad.”

Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Erdoğan, calling him a “terrible man” and the “Hitler of our century.”{mosads}

“There are thousands of people getting kidnapped, put into jail, getting tortured or raped. I stand for what I believe,” he said in 2017.  “I hope the whole world is watching this, human rights groups and the European Union. I want people to do something about it.”

Kanter said he believes his political views triggered the Turkish government to invalidate his passport in 2017 and issue an international warrant for his arrest, The Associated Press noted.

The NBA player said it would be “easy” for Turkish authorities to make an attempt on his life abroad.

“They’ve got a lot of spies there,” he added. “I think I can get killed there easy. It would be a very ugly situation.”

Kanter revealed in 2016 that he received death threats in response to his support of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, Erdoğan’s political rival accused of orchestrating a failed military coup in 2016.

The basketball star’s father, Mehmet Kanter, was indicted last year and charged with “membership in a terror group,” AP reported.

Mehmet Kanter, a former professor, publicly disavowed his son’s beliefs.

“People often ask me why I continue to speak out if it’s hurting my family,” Enes Kanter wrote for Time Magazine in 2017. “But that’s exactly why I speak out. The people Erdogan is targeting are my family, my friends, my neighbors, my classmates. I need to speak out, or my country will suffer in silence.”

Tags Enes Kanter NBA New York Knicks Turkey Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

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