New York Knicks player Enes Kanter will not travel to London over assassination fears

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. (Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 06 January 2019
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New York Knicks player Enes Kanter will not travel to London over assassination fears

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.”


“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.


Sea-Watch captain Carola Rackete to face Italy prosecutor over migrants

Updated 41 min 45 sec ago
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Sea-Watch captain Carola Rackete to face Italy prosecutor over migrants

  • Carola Rackete expected to be questioned in the southern Sicilian town of Agrigento
  • The German ship captain was arrested on June 29 for entering Italy’s Lampedusa port despite a veto

AGRIGENTO, Italy: German captain Carola Rackete, who sparked international headlines by forcibly docking in an Italian port with rescued migrants, faces questioning by an Italian prosecutor on Thursday over allegedly aiding illegal immigration.
The captain of the Sea-Watch 3 is expected to be questioned in the southern Sicilian town of Agrigento from 10 a.m. (0800 GMT).
Rackete was arrested on June 29 for entering Italy’s Lampedusa port despite a veto imposed by far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, and knocking a coast guard boat out of the way to land 40 migrants after over two weeks blocked at sea.
A judge overturned the arrest three days later, saying the 31-year old had merely acted to save lives.
But the Sea-Watch 3 remains in police custody in the Sicilian port of Licata and Rackete is still the object of two investigations — one for entering Italian waters despite a direct order to stop, and another for aiding illegal immigration.
Rackete will be heard on the latter on Thursday, and will have to explain why her crew rescued the migrants without waiting for the Libyan coast guard, which has jurisdiction over the stretch of water in which they were found.
The 31-year-old will also be asked why she then sailed the Dutch-flagged vessel to Italy rather than a Libyan or Tunisian port.
Salvini insists that Italy’s ports remain closed to people who attempt the perilous Mediterranean crossing.
Prosecutors in Agrigento appealed to Italy’s highest court this week against the decision to drop charges against Rackete for forcibly entering the port of Lampedusa, in the hope of establishing a precedent to put off other privately-run ships.
A few days after the Sea-Watch drama, another charity vessel forcibly landed in Lampedusa, a scenario that is likely to recur.
Salvini’s hard-line stance has led to an upsurge in investigations into charity rescue vessels.
In March 2017, the Spanish vessel Open Arms was seized and its captain and head of mission were prosecuted after the crew refused to hand saved migrants over to the Libyan coast guard, which arrived at the scene during a rescue operation.
A month later a judge ordered the vessel be released on the grounds that crisis-hit Libya could not be considered a safe port.
And the prosecutor’s office in Catania, eastern Sicily, recently archived the case against the captain and mission head.
The same prosecutor closed a similar probe against the NGO Sea-Watch after a rescue operation in January, concluding that the crew’s actions were justified.
But the Sea-Watch 3’s dramatic port entry in June marked a new chapter in the war between Salvini and charity vessels.
The arrest of the dreadlocked Rackete sparked an online campaign which raised over $1.57 million (€1.4 million) in a few days to pay her legal fees and enable the German NGO to continue its operations — with a new boat if necessary.
On Tuesday the parliament of Catalonia in Spain voted unanimously to honor Rackete with a Gold Medal, its highest award.
And the city of Paris announced a donation of €100,000 to Sea-Watch, as well as a medal for Rackete and Pia Klemp, another German captain prosecuted in Italy.
Paris’s move infuriated Italy’s far right, which noted that the French government had remained silent throughout the 15 days the ship had been blocked at sea, despite Rackete’s numerous appeals for a safe port.
Salvini has stepped up his attacks on the rescue charities, which he has accused of aiding people-smugglers, while calling Rackete a “bigmouth” and a “criminal.”
Rackete filed a complaint last week for defamation and incitement to violence, noting that Salvini’s hostile messages on social networks have prompted an outpouring of sexist, violent and threatening comments from users.