Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter says he’s been detained in Romania after his passport was seized by the Turkish government on Saturday morning.
The Turkish native and six-year NBA veteran, who turned 25 on Saturday, said in a video posted to Twitter that police officers have “been holding us here for hours” upon arrival to Bucharest on a flight from Indonesia, where he was visiting as part of a global tour for his charitable foundation.
Kanter, who has become a high-profile critic of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said his passport was “canceled” due to his political beliefs.
“The reason behind it is just, of course, my political views,” Kanter said, “and the guy who did it is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey.”
The Thunder said they are working with the league office and gathering information through the appropriate channels, ESPN reported.
Last year, Kanter revealed he received death threats in response to his support of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, Erdoğan’s political rival. The posts, written in Turkish, include phrases such as “You will die soon” beside ominous images of weapons and nooses.
Kanter spoke out against Erdoğan’s government in March after a terrorist bombing in Ankara that killed 37 people and injured more than 100, criticizing the country’s obstruction of broadcast media and access to social media.
This week, Erdoğan’s visit to the White House was marked by a clash between his security detail and protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence. Nine people were hurt and two arrests were made.
“He’s attacked people in Washington. He’s a bad, bad man,” Kanter said in the video. “He is a dictator, and he’s the Hitler of our century.
“I will keep you posted guys, but just pray for us, and I’ll tell you guys what’s going on.”
Previously, Kanter, who was tabbed with the No 3 overall pick in the 2011 draft, said he was left off Turkey’s national team for EuroBasket 2015 due to his political views, a claim denied by national team coach, Ergin Ataman.
Kanter averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 72 games with the Thunder, who lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Houston Rockets.