Enes Kanter, the only NBA player to openly support a terrorist group, is more occupied nowadays with stealing the spotlight for his allegations against Turkey than his basketball career. The Turkish player, a suspect in a case in Turkey on the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) recently launched what a Turkish official called "a smear campaign" against the Turkish government. The New York Knicks center recently announced he would not join a game against the Milwaukee Bucks scheduled for on Jan. 17 in London, citing he feared he might be murdered by "spies" working for Turkey, where he faces an arrest warrant for his ties to the terrorist group.
Hidayet Türkoğlu, a former Turkish NBA player and president of the Turkish Basketball Federation, was the first to respond Kanter's allegations and said it was not because of "fear for his life" but "due to visa issues" that Kanter would not be able to travel to the United Kingdom. Media outlets had earlier reported that this was indeed the case for Kanter having to skip the game. He said it was Kanter's "delusion" that he feared of being assassinated. "We know that he has not been able to travel to many countries due to visa issues since 2017. This being the long-known truth, he is trying to get the limelight with irrational justifications and political remarks," Türkoğlu tweeted. He added that Kanter's remarks "constitute another example of the political smear campaign [he] has been conducting against Turkey." "Kanter not only targeted the Republic of Turkey with unjust accusations but he also regarded the British security forces as weak and attempted to harm Turkish-British relations. It is obvious that this person's remarks are irrational and distort the truth," Türkoğlu added.
Last year, Turkish authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Kanter, the self-styled "adopted" son of Fetullah Gülen, the U.S.-based leader of FETÖ, one year after the terrorist group tried to seize power in a bloody coup attempt. He is accused of being a member of a terrorist group. His Turkish passport was revoked but Kanter was able to fly back to the United States when he was stopped in Romania in May 2017, with the help of U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
An indictment against Kanter says he has been a user of ByLock, an encrypted messaging app exclusively used for correspondence between FETÖ members. Kanter is already known for his tweets praising FETÖ and its leaders and after his father in Turkey disowned him, he published a bizarre letter heaping praise on Fetullah Gülen, signed with the name "Enes Gülen." He is accused of maintaining close contacts with FETÖ's senior figures and the group's other members. He has been summoned to testify on previous investigations but Kanter has not returned to Turkey since FETÖ openly started a campaign to seize power in 2013.
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