Enes Kanter to miss Knicks’ London trip for fears of assassination
NEW YORK — He should be playing for his New York Knicks in London this month but center Enes Kanter says he will not travel for fear of assassination.
The Turkish native is a critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and fears for his life should he make the trip to face the Washington Wizards on January 17.
“There’s a chance that I can get killed out there,” the 26-year-old, who was born in Switzerland, told reporters.
“I’m going to stay here and practice.”
Kanter was temporarily detained in Romania in May 2017 after his Turkish passport was canceled for what he said were his political views.
Later that year, Turkish prosecutors said Kanter could be sentenced to four years in prison for disparaging remarks he made about the country’s president.
In June 2018, his university professor father Dr. Mehmet Kanter was sentenced to 15 years for links to a banned organization.
“It’s pretty sad,” added Kanter, who spent a season in professional soccer with the Fenerbahçe senior team in 2008-9 before moving to the US in 2011.
“All this stuff affects my career in basketball. I want to help my team win, but because of one lunatic guy I can’t even go there to do my job. It’s pretty sad. They got a lot of spies there. I can get killed pretty easy.”
According to the Knicks, Kanter will not join the team in London because of a visa issue.
CNN has reached out to Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.