Turkish prosecutors are seeking an international arrest warrant for professional basketball player Enes Kanter, accusing him of membership in a terror organization.
Sabah newspaper says the Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office had also prepared an extradition request for the Kanter. Officials at the prosecutor’s office could not be reached by The Associated Press for comment.
Kanter, who didn’t go with his NY team this week for their game in London because he feared he could be killed over his opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, responded on Twitter that the Turkish government could not present “any single piece of evidence of my wrongdoing.”
“I don’t even have a parking ticket in the U.S.,” he wrote Wednesday.
Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Erdogan, and his Turkish passport was revoked in 2017.
This time, Sabah says prosecutors are seeking an Interpol “Red Notice” citing Kanter’s ties to exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for a failed coup in 2016, and accusing him of providing financial support to his group.
Kanter said he feared assassination if he left the U.S. or Canada when he announced last week that he wouldn’t travel with his team. The team said at the time Kanter wouldn’t make the trip because of a visa issue.
Kanter denied that was the problem, even posting a photo of a travel document on social media, and made it clear his issue was his safety because of Erdogan, whom he has referred to as “the Hitler of our century.”
“They’ve got a lot of spies there,” he said. “I think I can get killed there easy. It would be a very ugly situation.”
While his team is overseas, Kanter has posted a number of photos of himself meeting with U.S. congressmen. He also wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post explaining his decision and his reasons for standing against Erdogan.
“My decision not to travel to London was difficult from a competitive standpoint but much easier from a safety one,” he wrote. “It helps puts a spotlight on how a dictator is wrecking Turkey — people have been killed, thousands are unjustly imprisoned, and countless lives have been ruined. That is no game.”