NBA Star Kanter Calls Turkey’s Interpol Red Notice Attempt ‘Extraordinary’
NBA player Enes Kanter, in an interview with the Globe Post Turkey, described the Turkish government’s move to get an Interpol “red notice” issued for him as an “extraordinary” step to silence him, noting that he views it as his “duty” to speak out against the country’s human rights violations.
An Istanbul prosecutor on Tuesday applied for an Interpol “red notice” to be issued for Turkish NBA star Kanter for his alleged links to the group blamed for a 2016 failed coup, state media reported.
Kanter, a New York Knicks’ center and an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is accused of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, state news agency Anadolu reported.
Speaking to the Globe Post Turkey, Kanter said:
“It is extraordinary that the Turkish government is going to extra length to silence an NBA player like me, whose only ‘crime’ was to speak out against the regime’s human rights violations. When I speak up, the government escalates the pressure on me. [Seeking an] Interpol Red Notice against me is a clear indication of this.”
He continued “I feel it as my duty that I need to raise my voice for tens of thousands of voiceless people who are currently languishing in prisons across Turkey for nothing. And I won’t be silenced as long as the regime of Erdogan continues ruling the country with an iron fist.”
Turkish officials in the Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office prepared paperwork also seeking the player’s extradition, the agency said.
An Interpol red notice informs the police agency’s member states about a suspected criminal wanted in one country.
The documents prepared by the prosecutor have been sent to the “relevant ministries”, Anadolu added, without giving details.
Turkey blames the July 2016 attempted overthrow of Erdogan on former ally-turned-foe Fethullah Gulen, but the preacher vehemently denies the claims.
Turkey officially refers to the Gulen movement as the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization” and thousands of individuals are on trial over alleged membership of the group.
But the Gulen movement insists it is a peaceful group, promoting secular education.
Earlier this month, Kanter refused to make the NBA team’s trip to the U.K. over fears he might be murdered by Turkish spies.
“There’s a chance that I can get killed out there,” he said.
Former NBA player Hedo Turkoglu, now a chief advisor to Erdogan and head of the Turkish Basketball Federation, rebuked Kanter’s fears about his homeland as a “smear campaign”.
Kanter was detained last year at a Romanian airport after being told his Turkish passport was cancelled — a move that Kanter blamed on his political views.
Kanter, who has expressed support for Gulen, was allowed to leave a few hours later.