LONDON: NBA star Enes Kanter said Friday he will not be travelling to London for the New York Knicks' game there because he fears he might be assassinated for his opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Kanter disclosed his plans to stay in New York rather than travel with the Knicks to London on Jan. 17, the Independent reported. The Knicks later said Kanter also would not make the trip because of a visa issue.
He added that he cannot travel anywhere except the United States and Canada because “there’s a chance I could get killed out there.”
NBA (@NBA ) star #EnesKanter (@Enes_Kanter ) said he will not be travelling to #London for the New York Knicks' (@nyknicks ) game there because he fears he might be assassinated for his opposition to #Turkish President Recep Tayyip #Erdogan https://t.co/ISumC1f2lb pic.twitter.com/ub60h7TViN— Arab News (@arabnews) January 6, 2019
“Sadly, I'm not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president,” Kanter said. “It’s pretty sad that all the stuff affects my career and basketball, because I want to be out there and help my team win.”
Kanter said it would be “easy” for an attempt on his life to be made in London as “they've got a lot of spies there.”
NBA star Kanter is a Turkish native and critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He was detained in Romania when he travelled overseas in May 2017.
His Turkish passport was cancelled in 2017, which he said was because of his political views.
Kanter is a follower of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen who is accused by Turkey's government of masterminding a failed military coup in 2016.
The NBA star’s father, Mehmet, was indicted last year and charged with "membership in a terror group." He lost his job after the failed military coup even though he publicly disavowed his son and his beliefs.