The home country of outspoken former NBA star Enes Kanter Freedom put a $500K bounty on his head earlier in January, Freedom revealed to the New York Post (NYP).
The Turkish government is offering 10 million Turkish Lira, worth about USD $500K, for information leading to Freedom’s arrest, the NYP reported Thursday. The bounty is reportedly a response to Freedom’s criticisms and accusations of various regimes, including the Turkish government.
Originally known as Enes Kanter, the former NBA player added Freedom to his name when he gained U.S. citizenship in 2021. He became an outspoken pro-democracy activist after criticizing the Turkish government and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on multiple occasions, the NYP reported.
He has called Erdogan a “dictator” and “the Hitler of our century,” accusing him of domestic repression and political retaliation. Freedom posted a video May 25 showing himself stepping on an enlarged picture of Erdoğan’s face with the hashtag “stepontyranny” covering Erdoğan’s eyes.
I ain’t afraid!
I was made for this. @RTErdogan pic.twitter.com/9lKe3s5fCn
— Enes FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) May 25, 2022
The Turkish government revoked Freedom’s passport in 2017, and accused him of being part of a terrorist organization in 2019 based on his association with dissident Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, the Associated Press (AP) reported. He was also placed on Turkey’s 2023 most-wanted terrorists list, according to the NYP.
“That makes it so dangerous,” Freedom told the outlet. “Before the bounty, Turkish intelligence were after the people on the list, but now everyone is after them because they want the money.”
Freedom used his platform in the NBA to criticize the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and has accused the league of rejecting him for his outspoken stances, according to the NYP. He wore sneakers during NBA games advocating for Tibetan freedom and the end of slave labor in China, a gesture the NBA reportedly pressured him into stopping.
“Because of my platform, whenever I say something, it goes everywhere and the Turkish government hates that,” Freedom alleged, according to the NYP. “They’re really sick of it, and they said ‘enough is enough’ and are doing whatever they can to shut me up.”
Freedom reportedly has plans to sue the NBA for allegedly blackballing him from the league. “I’ve had many conversations and everyone is saying the same thing: ‘Your career has ended because of your China comments,'” he told the NYP.
Freedom played 11 seasons in the NBA as a center for five different teams, including the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New York Knicks. He is based in Washington, D.C., and runs interfaith basketball camps in his spare time.
The Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.