Enes Kanter Still Receives Death Threats 'Every Week' Amid Erdogan Criticism

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2021

Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter, left goes to the basket against Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. The Trail Blazers won 125-99. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter says he constantly deals with threats on his life due to his continued criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

During an interview with Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports Northwest, Kanter revealed he still gets death threats "every week" and lives in a hotel because of the additional layer of security the public nature of it provides him.

Kanter also said the FBI installed a panic button for him to use if he ever needs it.

Lindsey Wisniewski of NBC Sports Northwest provided context, noting Kanter called Erdogan the "Hitler of our country" after the president was accused of overthrowing democracy and carrying out terror attacks.

What's more, Kanter's father, Dr. Mehmet Kanter, started a 15-year prison sentence in 2018 but was released in 2020 after charges alleging he was linked to Fethullah Gulen were dropped. Turkey designated Gulen and members of his religious movement as a terrorist organization after blaming Gulen for a failed coup attempt in 2016.

As for Kanter, Turkey sought an international arrest warrant. The country's embassy also canceled his passport, which was seized in 2017 during a layover in Romania.

"The threats are real and I'm still getting them every week," Kanter said. "But I think America is doing an amazing job at protecting me because when I was with the Boston Celtics, most of the days I was going downstairs where I stayed and there was a police cop waiting for me. I asked our security team, what actually is this for? They are there for you if you ever need them."

The Trail Blazer will not travel outside the United States after the incident with his passport and plans on becoming an American citizen in June.

On the court, Kanter has played for the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks, Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics during a career that started during the 2011-12 season. He is averaging 10.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game this season.