Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter claims he was detained in airport over political views


(NEW YORK) — Enes Kanter, an NBA center with Turkish roots, is returning to the U.S. on Sunday after having been detained for several hours at a Romanian airport following statements he made criticizing Turkey’s president.

“The reason behind it is just, of course, my political views,” Kanter said of his detainment in a cellphone video captured at the airport on Saturday and posted to Twitter. “And the person who did it is Recep Tayyip Erdogan.” 

I’m being held at Romanian airport by Police!! pic.twitter.com/uYZMBqKx54

— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 20, 2017

Kanter, 25, a popular player with the Oklahoma City Thunder, is a supporter of Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gülen, a staunch critic of Erdogan. The Turkish president has blamed Gülen for the failed July 2016 coup that took place in the country. Erdogan has called for the extradition of Gülen, who has denied involvement in the attempted coup.

In the video posted online on Saturday, Kanter also refers to the widely circulated footage of Erdogan’s security detail beating up demonstrators in Washington, D.C. this week following his meeting with President Trump.

“You know he attacked the people in Washington,” Kanter said in the video. “He’s a bad, bad man. He’s a dictator.”

Kanter is now headed back to the U.S. via London. It is unclear how he is able to travel with an invalid passport.

In addition to the video, Kanter also posted a photo of himself giving a “thumbs up” on Twitter, acknowledging that his travel restrictions had been lifted.

He promised to elaborate on the situation at a press conference in New York, which is expected later on Sunday.

“Gonna give press conference tomorrow in NY,” he wrote on Twitter. “Got lots of things to say with lots of crazy stories.”

Kanter’s support for Gülen has caused a rift within his own family, according to the BBC, which reported that Kanter’s father published a letter disowning his son in the weeks following the failed coup attempt.

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