by WorldTribune Staff, March 14, 2019
Enes Kanter, a Turkish national and player for the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, says, despite death threats, he will not back down on criticism of the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who Kanter called a “freaking lunatic.”
Kanter, a 6-11 center, told Fox 11 TV that he receives death threats on a weekly basis and the only place he ever goes alone is to the bathroom.
But that won’t stop him from bringing attention to the problems plaguing his home country, Kanter said.
“It’s very sad what’s going on with my country … There is no democracy, there is no freedom, there [are] no human rights in Turkey,” he said. “I’m trying to use this platform to talk about the issues going on in my country and they hate that because when I talk, it becomes a conversation and it goes viral.”
Erdogan has accused Kanter of being a terrorist and has issued an international arrest warrant for the Portland player.
“They are claiming that I am a bad guy, even called me a terrorist. All I’m trying to do is be the voice for the people who don’t have a voice,” Kanter said.
Related: U.S. media relies on Turkey, world’s top jailer of journalists, for news on Khashoggi case, October 19, 2018
Kanter said had his Turkish passport was revoked in 2017 as a result of his criticism. He also opted out of an international game in London in January over fears he could be assassinated.
“I talked to the front office and sadly I’m not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president,” Kanter said at the time. “There’s a chance I can get killed out there.”
Article 299 of the Turkish penal code states that anybody who insults the president of the republic can face a prison term of up to four years. This sentence can be increased by a sixth if committed publicly; and a third if committed by press or media.
Kanter told Fox 11 that he is putting his own safety at risk to give the suppressed people in his country a voice.
“I’m sacrificing everything – myself, my career, basketball, even my life to talk about these issues because… There are 80,000 people in jail right now who don’t have a voice – their stories are way worse than mine.”
Kanter said he hopes to speak with President Donald Trump, whom he thinks may be the “only one who can help those innocent people.”