Prosecutors in Turkey hope to issue an international warrant for the arrest of New York Knicks player Enes Kanter. The prosecutors allege Kanter is a member of a terrorist organization.
A media source in the country says the chief prosecutor’s office in Istanbul is preparing an extradition order for Kanter.
Prosecutors are requesting a ‘Red Notice’ through Interpol. The basis of the request is alleged ties to Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric accused of an attempted coup in 2016. The coup ultimately failed but prosecutors say Kanter supported the efforts of Gulen financially.
Kanter used Twitter on Wednesday to deny the allegations. He said there is no evidence of wrongdoing on his part and claimed he is a law-abiding citizen.
Interpol advises a Red Notice is issued when grounds are established that a person should be arrested while awaiting extradition to a country where they were accused of a crime. The United States will only agree to the extradition of Kanter if it determines he committed a crime in Turkey which he would have been prosecuted for in the U.S.
Turkey made similar requests for ten people said to now reside in the United States in November.
Kanter did not join his teammates on a trip to London recently for a game against the Washington Wizards. He expressed fears his opposition to the presidency of Recep Tayyip Erdogan puts him at risk for an assassination attempt. Kanter says it is not safe for him to travel anywhere outside of the United States or Canada.
The Knicks attempted to diffuse the situation publicly and stated Kanter did not travel to London due to an issue with his visa. Kanter dispelled this account of the incidents via social media. He wanted the public to know he believed his safety was at risk due to his criticism of Erdogan.
While awaiting the return of his teammates, Kanter met with Congressmen in the United States. Kanter also penned a piece in the Washington Post explaining the reasons he is taking a stand against Erdogan.
Kanter said it was not an easy decision to skip the trip to London with teammates. However, he said it was necessary to guarantee his safety. He says the resulting media attention also helps to shed light on the damage Erdogan is doing to his homeland. Kanter says people are being killed in his native country and thousands have been unjustly imprisoned.
Kanter says what is happening in Turkey is no game.