*Updates at bottom
Enes Kanter has been all over social media lately, as he is traveling the world on behalf of his foundation. It appears as though his travels hit a snag this morning, with the 25-year-old big man (today is his birthday) now being held in Romania after having his passport canceled by the Turkish government — or, as Kanter suggests, directly by Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Here is his explanation:
“What’s up world, I just wanted to say we are in Romania and they say they cancel my passport by Turkish Embassy. They’ve been holding us here for hours by these two police. The reason behind it is just, of course, my political views, and the guy who did it is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey. You guys know he attacked the people in Washington — he’s a bad, bad man, he’s a dictator, the Hitler of our century. So I will keep you posted, guys, but just pray for us and I’ll tell you guys what’s going on.”
So there is that.
Kanter obviously had strong words in regard to President Erdoğan, but this is hardly the first time he’s been outspoken toward the current regime. As a devout follower of Fethullah Gülen, the leader of Turkey’s opposition movement (and alleged mastermind of last year’s failed coup attempt), Kanter has had his social profiles blocked in Turkey, and was even disowned by his parents in August of 2016.
We hope today’s situation finds a peaceful resolution, but there is a lot on the line for Kanter. If for any reason he is forced to return to Turkey, it’s widely believed he will be arrested and then all bets are off. For his sake, we obviously hope it never reaches that point.
We will update this story as it develops, but for now, we wait. You can follow his Twitter account for up-to-date news.
“The Turkish government, Fetic [Kanter’s rep] said, has been known to report citizens’ passports as stolen or missing in order to have them confiscated in foreign countries. Fetic’s understanding is that Kanter’s passport had been reported as missing or stolen. ‘They can try to create a process where they can extradite you back to Turkey.'”
“The players’ union is ‘in conversations with the State Department as well as the league’ regarding Kanter, said National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts, according to the Sports Business Journal. Roberts was speaking Saturday at the Sports Lawyers Association annual conference.”
Per the New York Times, Enes Kanter has been released.
“Today at around 1 p.m. local time an individual arrived from Frankfurt,” Mr. Fabian Badila, a spokesman for the Romanian border police, said in an interview. “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,” Mr. Badila continued. “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.”
Looks like the coast is clear. That press conference should be interesting.