Enes Kanter Arrest Warrant Issued in Turkey for Terrorist Ties
Multiple news outlets are reporting that Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter is wanted in Turkey over alleged terrorist ties. The pro-Turkish government media outlet Daily Sabah is reporting that an arrest warrant has been issued in Turkey for the Thunder star’s arrest. According to international news agency AFP, a judge issued a warrant for Kanter’s arrest on Friday after a prosecutor in Istanbul opened an investigation into Kanter’s “alleged membership of an armed terrorist organization.”
Kanter responded to the report of the arrest warrant via Twitter.
Hepinizin o çirkin, nefret dolu suratlarınıza tükürmeye zaten kendim geleceğim. pic.twitter.com/hw0LUp4MNo
— Enes FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) May 26, 2017
AFP translated Kanter’s Tweet as saying “You cannot catch me. Hahaha. Don’t waste your energy. I am already going to come to (Turkey) to spit on all of your ugly, hate-filled faces.”
Kanter’s Support of Fethullah Gulen
The warrant for Kanter’s arrest is directly related to his support for exiled Muslim spiritual leader Fethullah Gülen and his transnational religious and social movement (the “Gülen movement”). Gülen, who has spent the last 15 years in exile in the United States, is reportedly sought by the Turkish government for alleged involvement in the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey aimed at ousting current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Turkish government accuses Gülen of ordering the failed coup and refers to Gülen and his movement as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation” (FETO).
Kanter’s arrest warrant refers to Kanter’s alleged use of an encrypted messaging application which Turkey claims was especially created for Gülen supporters.
Kanter’s support for Gülen has caused him problems previously. It is the root of an ongoing rift with his family. Last summer, Kanter’s father announced to the Daily Sabah that the family was disowning him.
Kanter’s support of Gülen and criticisms of Erdoğan have also resulted in numerous death threats.
Arrest Warrant Comes After Frightening Detention in Romania
Kanter’s arrest warrant caps off a week full of frightening events. Kanter made news last weekend after being detained by police at a Romania airport on his way back to the U.S. The Turkish government reportedly revoked Kanter’s passport. Kanter claimed the cancellation was due to his criticism of Erdoğan. In a video he recorded while detained, Kanter referred to Erdogan as a “bad, bad man” and the “Hitler of our century.”
I'm being held at Romanian airport by Police!! pic.twitter.com/uYZMBqKx54
— Enes FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) May 20, 2017
Kanter eventually made it back to America, where he discussed the ordeal with Fox Sport’s Radio’s Doug Gottlieb.
Grateful for American Support
Kanter also dropped by CBS Sports Radio post-detainment to talk to Brian Jones and Gregg Giannotti (“Gio & Jones”), about the political unrest in Turkey and his May 23, 2017 Player’s Tribune piece “They Can Take Away Your Country, Just Like That.”
In the interview, Kanter expressed how grateful he was for the support shown him by the American people. “One thing (that) really made me happy and amazed me, when I tweeted and (said) I’m finally in America, people started to say, ‘Welcome home,’” Kanter shared. “When they said ‘Welcome home,’ that (meant) a lot to me – because those were . . . American people (who) I didn’t even know. I have no idea who they are. They were just supporting me. They said, ‘Welcome home. This is your home now. Don’t worry about it. We’ll take care of you.’ That’s why I love being here.”
The 25 year old Kanter has told reporters that given recent events he intends to pursue American citizenship, and recently shared his love for the country on social media.
The most beautiful country in the world.
The United States Of America 🇺🇸 ❤️ pic.twitter.com/FBPurW17AT
— Enes FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) May 21, 2017
“Right now I am country-less,” Kanter said at the National Basketball Players Association headquarters in Manhattan, according to ESPN. “I am open to adoption definitely. I am going to try to become an American citizen.”
Can Kanter Be Extradited?
The United States does have an extradition treaty with Turkey, which begs the question, can Kanter be extradited?
Under its extradition agreement with Turkey, the United States can only extradite a person if he or she has committed an “extraditable act.” Extraditable offenses, pursuant to the provisions of this Treaty, do not include acts of political character or political opinions. Based on reports on this story to date, Turkey has not requested extradition. However, even if it did, it would appear Kanter does not meet extradition requirements.
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