Thunder’s Enes Kanter was held in, now released from, Romanian airport after Turkish government revoked passport
Let’s start with a little background: Oklahoma City big man Enes Kanter is a native of Turkey, and he is also a supporter of the Gülen movement in that country. That movement has been in opposition to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a man who recently won a disputed election in that country that gives him sweeping, almost dictatorial powers (and he has a long history of human rights abuses, so that power is a bad combination). Kanter has never been shy about expressing his political views. It was Gulen that Erdogan blamed for a failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. Kanter has been disavowed by his own family because of his political beliefs.
Kanter tweeted out a video Saturday morning from a Romanian airport, where he was being held because his Turkish passport had been canceled.
Kanter, who turned 25 on Saturday, is on a global tour for his Enes Kanter Foundation....
The Turkish government, Fetic 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,” Fetic said.
If sent to Turkey he would almost certainly be arrested. Which is why everyone is working to get him to the United States.
Enes, for his part, seems to be in good spirits.
UPDATED: According to the New York Times, Kanter was allowed to leave on a flight to London. From there he likely can return to the United States.
Enes Kanter has landed in London. He and his representatives are now figuring out next steps, which is hopefully returning to the US.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) May 20, 2017
League sources say the NBA worked with the US State Department to help facilitate getting Kanter to London.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) May 20, 2017