OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City center Enes Kanter could not get into Bucharest, Romania, Saturday after landing there on a flight from Singapore. The Turkish government had canceled his passport. Kanter, who is from Turkey, quickly took to Twitter to explain the situation.
“We are in Romania, and they said they canceled my passport by Turkish embassy,” Kanter said in a Twitter video he posted at 8:20 a.m. Saturday. “They’ve been holding us here for hours by these two police. The reason behind it is, of course, my political views, and the guy who did it is Recep Tayyip, the president of Turkey.”
Kanter was able to get onto a plane to London later in the afternoon. A spokesperson for the Romanian border police told the New York Times that Kanter had not been “detained or locked up” while in Romania.
“Today at around 1 p.m. local time an individual arrived from Frankfurt,” Fabian Badila told the Times. “My colleagues established that his travel documents weren’t valid, that they had been canceled by his home country, so he wasn’t allowed to enter the country.
“At around 5 p.m., he left the airport on a flight to London. While he was at the airport he wasn’t detained or locked up, he was allowed to wander around, but he couldn’t enter the country.”
Kanter tweeted an update later Saturday afternoon, saying “All good baby!”
He continued, “Gonna give press conference tomorrow in NY. Got lots of things to say with lots of crazy stories. Be ready!!! Ohhh Yeeahhh.” He attached a photo of himself giving a thumbs up.
Details of Kanter’s press conference are still unconfirmed. Kanter has an apartment in New York City and had said he planned on spending some of his offseason there.
Kanter has consistently spoken out against President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who visited the White House earlier this month.
“He’s a bad, bad man,” Kanter said of Erdoğan in Saturday morning’s Twitter video. “He is a dictator, and he is the Hitler of our century. So, I will keep you posted, guys. But just pray for us, and I’ll tell you guys what’s going on.”
The Turkish government previously has canceled passports of citizens who were mid-travel. Outspoken critics of Erdoğan could be arrested if they get deported back to Turkey.
Kanter has received death threats on Twitter for supporting Fethullah Gülen, who is alleged to have organized a failed coup in 2016. Gülen is now in Pennsylvania as the Turkish government tries to extradite him back to Turkey so it can arrest him.
Kanter’s father announced last summer that his parents had disowned him for his political views, as well.
“Today I lost my mother, father, brothers and sisters, my family and all my relatives,” Kanter wrote in a response that was originally in Turkish. “My own father asked me to change my surname. My mother, who has given me life, disowned me. My brothers and sisters, with which we have grown together, ignore me.”
The Thunder and the NBA were working in tandem in trying to bring Kanter back to the States safely, speaking with the state department much of the day. Kanter is not a U.S. citizen, but he has a green card.
Fred Katz is the Thunder beat writer for CNHI Oklahoma.