ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An ongoing row between Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken yet another turn as reports suggest Ankara has issued a warrant for the athlete’s arrest.
According to the Istanbul based pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper, Turkish prosecutors have called for an international arrest warrant for New York Knicks player Kanter, accusing him of being a member of a terrorist organization.
Kanter responded to the reports on Twitter, stating that the Turkish government has no evidence to support their claims.
“I don’t even have a parking ticket in the US,” he wrote. “I have always been a law-abiding citizen.”
The Turkish basketball player missed out on a trip to the United Kingdom with his teammates for an NBA match on Jan. 17 in London, fearing execution.
Although a member of the Knicks said the Turkish athlete would not travel due to “a visa issue,” Kanter told the media earlier this month that there is a possibility he could get killed if he joins his team on their UK trip because the Turkish government has “a lot of spies there.”
“It’s pretty sad that all this stuff affects my career and basketball because I want to be out there and help my team win,” he lamented.
The 26-year-old baller faces jail time in his home nation Turkey after a prosecutor ruled in December 2017 that Kanter was guilty of insulting Erdogan and should be jailed for up to four years.
According to prosecutors, the NBA player used Twitter to “defame and deride” the Turkish president.
The New York Knicks star is also a long-time supporter of Gulen whose extradition Ankara is seeking despite the Islamic cleric’s denial of Turkish charges that he was involved in a 2006 failed coup in Turkey.
In May 2017, Kanter was detained in Romania when authorities were made aware his Turkish passport had been revoked, leading him to call Erdogan the “Hitler of our century.”
He would later return to the United States where he holds a green card that allows him to live and work in the country on a permanent basis.
Editing by John J. Catherine