Turkish NBA star to skip United Kingdom trip due to assassination fears

Mitchell Robinson

Mitchell Robinson

The Knicks will meet the Washington Wizards on January 19 (NZ time) at London's O2 Arena as part of the NBA's annual trip overseas.

New York Knicks center Enes Kanter announced Friday he will not travel to London for the team's upcoming global game against the Washington Wizards on January 17 because he believes he could be assassinated for his opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

While speaking to reporters, Kanter said he would stay in ny and practice while his team traveled.

Kanter is referencing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who put out an global warrant for Kanter's arrest back in 2017 after Kanter spoke negatively on the President's behalf.

"I talked to the front office and decided I'm not going, " Kanter said. Because I want to be out there but just because of that one lunatic guy, that one maniac, I can't go out there and do my job.

Kanter has been vocal in his opposition of Erdogan, who took on the presidency in 2014.

In 2016, Kanter spoke out against Erdogan following a bombing in Ankara, Turkey's capital city.

Kanter said late Friday night that the team will travel without him to the United Kingdom, as he'll stay behind and practice while the Knicks play the Wizards on January 17 in London.

"They've got a lot of spies there", he said.

Kanter was detained for hours at a Romanian airport the last time he traveled overseas.

"There is a chance I could get killed out there", Kanter, a longtime critic of Erdogan, told reporters.

His Turkish passport was revoked in 2017 and an worldwide warrant for his arrest was issued by Turkey. "That will be a very ugly situation".

An arrest warrant was issued for Kanter's father, Mehmet, in June 2018 after the university professor was accused of contacting members of a banned organisation. "I can get killed very easy". Kanter's passport was deemed exempt by the Turkish government.

Kanter added he believed Turkey had many spies in London.

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