Enes Kanter was the backup center for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The resident of Turkey was always so cheerful, positive, and supportive of his teammates and the city that everyone here was sorry to see him go, being traded to the New York Knicks, where he is starting and becoming a really good player. Too bad his life is in danger.
Kanter openly criticizes the dictatorial president of Turkey, Recep Erdogan. Kanter is a supporter of Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish theologian and politician, who advocates a kinder and gentler Islam and whom Erdogan blames for an unsuccessful coup attempt. Gülen is currently living in exile in Pennsylvania. Erdogan is trying to extradite him and has imprisoned thousands of “Gülenists” both in Turkey and abroad.
Erdogan has gone so far as to open an “Office for Human Abductions and Executions.” His agents are kidnapping critics in other countries and bringing them to Turkey for punishment.
Enes Kanter is on Erdogan’s list. Read his op-ed piece in the Washington Post, which describes conditions in Turkey and how he narrowly escaped abduction while attending his charity’s basketball camp in Indonesia. Kanter is not traveling with his team to an exhibition game in London today, due to the threats on his life and liberty. Turkey revoked Kanter’s passport and his citizenship, so he is a man without a country.
It turns out that the president’s ousted and prosecuted National Security advisor Michael Flynn was working for Turkey at the same time that he was advising Trump during the campaign. Flynn agitated for the extradition of Gülen!
Last year the White House reportedly sought ways to extradite Gülen or otherwise remove him from the country in an effort to placate Erdogan, but justice officials pushed back and stopped the effort.
But why would our president cozy up to Erdogan–as he did in agreeing over a phone call to remove our forces in Syria at Erdogan’s behest so that he could attack our Kurdish allies–given the Turkish dictator’s place among the world’s authoritarian regimes, such as that of the Marxist strongman of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, who called him a “leader of the new multi-polar world”?
Photo of Turkish president Recep Erdogan by Kremlin.ru via Wikipedia [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]