Basketball pro Enes Kanter: US senator calls for free escort for NBA star

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Democratic US Sen. Ron Wyden has called for free escort for Turkish basketball star Enes Kanter to Canada should Kanter and his Portland Trailblazers face the Toronto Raptors in a potential NBA playoff series. Wyden, representing the state of Oregon in the Senate, sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday calling for Kanter to guarantee safe entry and exit.

“I urge your government to publicly announce that it will not comply with Interpol's call for tenders, which seeks to harm Mr. Kanter's livelihood and intimidate him and his family in Turkey,” the statement said Letter Kanter published on Instagram.

Kanter, 26, is currently struggling with Portland in the play-off semi-final against the Golden State Warriors for the finals – and at the same time fears for his life by his own admission. Turkey is using a red call for tenders at Interpol international search for him and asks States to deliver the NBA star to his home country. Reason is Kanters continuous criticism of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In 2017 he named Erdogan the “Hitler of our century”.

Kanter is currently stateless

Kanter has been campaigning for years for Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is revered by millions of followers as an Islamic reformer, but whom critics consider a cult leader accused by the Turkish government of being behind the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt , Kanter attended Gülen Schools as a child and is considered one of the most prominent advocates of the movement. “After hearing (Gülens) lectures, I understood that he preaches peace and service to humanity,” he once said.

Two years ago Kanter had been denied Turkish citizenship. Since then he is stateless, only in 2021 he could get an American passport. Until then, foreign trips pose a risk for Kanter. Only in January, the basketball pro said a trip to London, where he should compete with his then team, the New York Knicks – according to their own account for fear of being kidnapped or murdered by thugs of the Turkish regime. Shortly thereafter, the prosecutor in Istanbul issued an arrest warrant against him via Interpol. In early March, Kanter had now joined the Trailblazers, Kanter renounced therefore on a trip to the away game to Toronto.

So that this scenario does not repeat Kanter gets now diplomatic support. For the Democrat Wyden, the sender of the letter to the Canadian Prime Minister, probably not a very selfless action. The Senator from Oregon is a fan of the Trailblazers, frequented more games of the team and has been repeatedly photographed with players, including Kanter. “Enes Kanter sets the golden standard for dedication and teamwork,” Wyden commented on a photo of the center in early May.

After the injury-related failure of the Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic Portland is athletically dependent on Kanter, who continued to play in the second round series against Denver despite a Schulterblessur. A final participation seems still unlikely. Portland is considered the underdog in the semi-final series against the Warriors. In the night to Wednesday Kanters team lost the first game 94: 116 and would now have to win four of the maximum six games remaining. Toronto duels with the Milwaukee Bucks in the second semifinals, the series launches in the night to Thursday.

By the way, many people in Turkey do not get much of Kanter's sporting achievements. In his homeland, games of the Trailblazers are not transmitted, from game reports his name is emphasized. Even the finals series would not be seen in Kanters home, should Portland qualify.

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