Enes Kanter Defended by Senator Ron Wyden in Letter Criticizing Turkish Regime

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 9, 2019

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 7:  Enes Kanter #00 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 7, 2019 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

United States Senator Ron Wyden has come to the aid of Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter in his ongoing battle with the Turkish government. 

Kanter tweeted out a letter written by Wyden, the senator for Oregon, that was sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging the U.S. to "not stay silent in the face of such a blatant assault" on Kanter's right to free speech:

Kanter has been outspoken in his criticism of Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling him "the Hitler of our century" in May 2017 while being detained at a Romanian airport when his passport was revoked by the Turkish government:

Mehmet Kanter, Enes' father, was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Turkish government in June 2018. Enes believes the arrest occurred because of his support for Fethullah Gulen, who was alleged to have been a key figure in a coup against Erdogan in 2016, though Gulen has denied the suggestion. 

While still playing for the New York Knicks, Kanter skipped the team's trip to London for a Jan. 17 game against the Washington Wizards because he was afraid for his life. 

"Sadly, I'm not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president," Kanter told reporters. "There's a chance that I can get killed out there. So that's why I talked to the [Knicks'] front office. I'm not going."

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Per the Associated Press (h/t The Guardian), Turkish prosecutors were seeking an international arrest warrant for Kanter on grounds he is part of a terrorist organization. 

Kanter moved to the United States in 2009, two years before he was a third overall pick by the Utah Jazz