Fearing for his life, Kanter will not travel to London with Knicks

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Fearing for his life, Kanter will not travel to London with Knicks

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) and forward Dwight Powell (7) defend against New York Knicks center Enes Kanter (00) during the first half on Sunday, January 7, 2018 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) and forward Dwight Powell (7) defend against New York Knicks center Enes Kanter (00) during the first half on Sunday, January 7, 2018 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

Andy Jacobsohn/Dallas Morning News/TNS

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) and forward Dwight Powell (7) defend against New York Knicks center Enes Kanter (00) during the first half on Sunday, January 7, 2018 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

Andy Jacobsohn/Dallas Morning News/TNS

Andy Jacobsohn/Dallas Morning News/TNS

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) and forward Dwight Powell (7) defend against New York Knicks center Enes Kanter (00) during the first half on Sunday, January 7, 2018 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

By Stefan Bondy, New York Daily News

LOS ANGELES – Fearing he might be murdered by Turkish spies, Enes Kanter said he will not travel with the Knicks to London for their regular season game against the Bucks on Jan. 17.

Kanter, a wanted criminal in Turkey for speaking out against the country’s president, also had his passport revoked and cannot fly to Europe.

“I talked to the front office and they said I’m not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president (Recep Tayyip Erdogan),” Kanter said. “There’s a chance that I can get killed out there. So that’s why I talked to the front office. I’m not going so I’m just going to stay here, just practice. It’s pretty sad because it affects my career, my basketball. Because I want to be out there but just because of that one lunatic guy, that one maniac, I can’t go out there and do my job. It’s pretty sad.”

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Asked about the probability of getting murdered in Europe, Kanter said, “Oh yeah. Easy. They have a lot of spies there. I can be killed easily.”

A Knicks spokesman then clarified that Kanter will not travel due to visa issues.

The last time Kanter tried to travel to Europe _ in spring of 2017 _ it got ugly. Kanter, who has called Erdogan “the Hitler of our century,” among other things, was held at an airport in Romania because the Turkish government canceled his travel documents.

They threatened to extradite him to Turkey, where he would’ve been imprisoned and unable to leave.

At the time, Kanter was on a world tour for his charitable foundation. He also had to flee Indonesia while

being sought by the country’s army and Secret Service, all under the direction of the Turkish government.
He was eventually released in Romania because of support from the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the NBA and the players union. Three months later, Kanter was traded to the Knicks.

He has never since left North America. Despite his passport being revoked by the Turkish government, Kanter made arrangements to play in Canada against the Raptors, and was cleared to travel to Mexico City for a game last season before he was traded from the Thunder.

The Turkish government issued the arrest warrant in May of last year and Kanter faces over four years in prison.

Kanter has been a supporter of Fethullah Gulen, an opponent of Erdogan who has been living in exile in the United States since 1999. Gulen was accused of orchestrating a failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016, but he denies any involvement.

Kanter’s father is also wanted in Turkey for “membership in a terror group.”

“I’m not a criminal or a radical. I’m not ‘dangerous,'” Kanter wrote in a Time Magazine op-ed. “I’m a human being with opinions and beliefs that I have a right to express. Erdogan does not respect that right in me or anyone else, and is willing to crush anyone who criticizes him.”

The Knicks last played in London in 2015, losing to the Bucks. They also went to Italy for preseason games in 2010.

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