NBA Star Says Turkish Government Cancelled His Passport Because Of His Political Beliefs

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

NBA player Enes Kanter had his passport seized at an airport in Romania on Saturday, and he says it’s because of his criticism of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kanter, a center for the Oklahoma City Thunder and citizen of Turkey, was flying from Romania to Indonesia, where he is hosting a basketball camp, when he was detained by two police officers. The 25-year-old could be deported back to Turkey, where he could potentially be arrested.

Kanter said in a video posted on Twitter that the Turkish embassy had cancelled his passport.

“The reason behind it is just, of course, my political views,” said Kanter. “And the guy who did it is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey.”

“He’s a bad, bad man. He’s a dictator, and he’s the Hitler of our century.”

[Update: Kanter has been released from custody and has been allowed to fly to Indonesia. The Turkish government has not commented on why Kanter’s passport was cancelled.]

In addition to being heavily critical of Erdogan, Kanter is also a supporter of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Muslim cleric who Erdogan wants extradited back to Turkey.

Erdogan accuses Gulen, his former ally, of orchestrating last July’s failed coup attempt.

In the wake of the coup attempt, Erdogan has arrested tens of thousands of Turks and purged tens of thousands more from their jobs based on allegations of supporting dissenting groups.

That crackdown even hit the U.S. capital earlier this week. Bodyguards working for Erdogan attacked a group of peaceful protesters outside of the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, possibly on orders from the Turkish president himself.

Video of the incident showed Erdogan appearing to relay commands to a bodyguard just moments before his goons launched the assault on the protesters, who the Turkish government claims were supporters of the left-wing Kurdish political group, PKK. (RELATED: Audio Analysis: Erdogan Goons Were Told To ‘Attack’ Protesters)

Kanter referred to that attack in his video. He also posted pictures posing with the two police officers who detained him.

This article has been updated with additional information. 

Follow Chuck on Twitter