Former NBA star Enes Kanter has $500K Turkish bounty on his head

Former NBA star Enes Kanter Freedom — who famously amended his identify after turning into a US citizen in 2021 — is formally a wished man. Not solely is his identify from him on 2023’s most-wanted terrorists record, however that is the primary time his former nation from him has really positioned a broadcast bounty on folks’s heads.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s authorities is providing as much as 10 million Turkish Lira, or roughly $500,000, for data resulting in the seize of Freedom, who mentioned he came upon about it every week in the past.

“That makes it so harmful,” Freedom, 30, instructed The Put up. “Earlier than the bounty, Turkish intelligence had been after the folks on the record, however now everyone seems to be after them as a result of they need the cash.”

He additionally revealed that he’s wanting into suing the NBA — “I am ready for the correct time” — which Freedom claims has blackballed him for his public protests towards China.

Enes Kanter Freedom, previously of the NBA, is now on Turkey’s most-wanted terrorist record — with a $500,000 bounty on his head.
AFP through Getty Photographs
Freedom has never shielded away from calling out what he sees as injustices, be they in China, Turkey or anywhere else.
Freedom has by no means shielded away from calling out what he sees as injustices, be they in China, Turkey or wherever else.
SALVATORE DI NOLFI/EPA-EFE/Shutt

Throughout 11 seasons within the NBA, Freedom was recognized for his outspokenness, together with towards the Turkish authorities’s human rights abuses. I’ve called out Erdoğan for being a “dictator,” stepped on a photo of him at a protest, and even dubbed him the “Hitler of our century.”

“Due to my platform, at any time when I say one thing, it goes in all places and the Turkish authorities hates that,” Freedom mentioned. “They’re actually sick of it, and so they mentioned ‘sufficient is sufficient’ and are doing no matter they will to close me up.”

The athlete’s identify seems on the Turkish Terrorist Needed Listing together with precise terrorists and fellow dissidents important of the Erdoğan regime, which has routinely defended worldwide human rights regulation. The record additionally names greater than a dozen journalists—half of a bigger assault on the free press in Turkey, the place the variety of jailed journalists has doubled prior to now 12 months.

The Turkish Terrorist Wanted List, published by President Erdoğan's government, includes the names of many dissidents alongside actual terrorists.
The Turkish Terrorist Needed Listing, revealed by President Erdoğan’s authorities, contains the names of many dissidents alongside precise terrorists.
through REUTERS

Though Freedom, who now lives in Washington, DC, admitted the bounty ups to his private safety considerations, he mentioned is in fixed contact with native regulation enforcement and the FBI.

“I am being protected 24/7,” he mentioned, including that he’s extra frightened for the protection of the lesser-known Turkish dissidents on Erdoğan’s record.

“I am talking out as a result of I’m not the one one on that record,” Freedom mentioned of the bounty. “There are such a lot of journalists, so many activists, and so many athletes, however they don’t seem to be as well-known as me. They’re manner simpler targets — and so they’re alone on the market.”

Freedom said he has personal security but worries about the safety of others on the list.
Freedom mentioned he has private safety however worries concerning the security of others on the record.
Patrick McMullan through Getty Picture

The Swiss-born, Turkish-raised, American citizen has performed for the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics and different groups throughout his time within the NBA.

However he precipitated a rift within the league — which pulls in billions of {dollars} in income from China through practically half a billion viewers — when he grew to become an outspoken critic of Xi Jinping and the Chinese language Communist Social gathering.

He is additionally been important of Nike — a significant NBA advertiser and participant sponsor — for its manufacturing offers in China.

Freedom is
Freedom is “ready for the correct time” to launch a swimsuit towards the NBA for, he claims, blackballing him.
Getty Photographs

Freedom grew to become recognized for sporting sneakers with messages like “Free Tibet,” “Free Uyghur,” and “No Beijing 2022,” painted by dissident artists, throughout video games and has mentioned he was pressured by the league to take off his sneakers and hold his mouth shut.

His refusal to take action led to a tiff with NBA star LeBron James in 2019.

“I tweeted that Hong Kong ought to be free. [Then] Le Bron mentioned he isn’t educated sufficient concerning the scenario [to comment on it] and that what I tweeted damage the league,” Freedom instructed The Put up in 2021. “It is unhappy that these gamers are social justice warriors, however, relating to China, they’re scared to say something … Your values ​​are extra necessary than any cash you’ll be able to ever make from China.”

Now, Freedom says he is been blackballed by the NBA. After being traded to the Houston Rockets from the Boston Celtics in February, he was rapidly dropped. I averaged 11.7 minutes, 3.7 factors and 4.6 rebounds final season.

Freedom was known in the NBA for wearing sneakers with protest messages painted by dissident artists.
Freedom was recognized within the NBA for sporting sneakers with protest messages painted by dissident artists.
Getty Photographs
The former player has said he was pressured by those around him to ditch the shoes.
The previous participant has mentioned he was pressured by these round him to ditch the sneakers.
Getty Photographs

“The NBA is rarely going to confess it, however I imagine I am being blackballed,” he instructed The Put up. “I’ve had many conversations and everyone seems to be saying the identical factor: ‘Your profession has ended due to your China feedback.’”

Now, Freedom is “ready for the correct time” to sue the league.

“They’re a 100% American made group, however they’re being managed and run by the most important dictatorship on this planet, China,” he mentioned. “How can China fireplace an American citizen from an American group? That’s unacceptable.”

Freedom believes he has been blackballed from the NBA for speaking out against human rights abuses by China's Communist government, led by President Xi Jinpeng.
Freedom believes he has been blackballed from the NBA for talking out towards human rights abuses by China’s Communist authorities, led by President Xi Jinpeng.
Xinhua/Sipa USA

“The league workplace has had no involvement in workforce roster selections involving Mr. Freedom,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass instructed The Put up.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, talking with the New York Instances this previous March, denied that Kanter is being blackballed.

“We spoke straight about his actions this season,” Silver mentioned on the time. “And I made it completely clear to him that it was fully inside his proper from him to talk out on points that he was obsessed with.”

Since leaving the NBA, he’s working interfaith basketball camps for kids to foster unity and has been touring the world to fulfill with leaders as a human rights activist.

The Kanter family, including dad Mehmet (above), are still harassed in Turkey, Freedom said, despite being forced to publicly disown him.
The Kanter household, together with dad Mehmet (above), are nonetheless harassed in Turkey, Freedom mentioned, regardless of being pressured to publicly disown him.

Though 2023 is the primary 12 months Freedom appeared on the Terrorist Needed Listing, his battle with the Turkish authorities is ongoing. Leaders revoked his passport from him in 2017 and requested an Interpol “purple discover” — asking regulation enforcement worldwide to arrest pending extradition — in 2019.

His father, Mehmet, was jailed in Turkey, and the household was pressured to disown Freedom for their very own security, the athlete mentioned. It has been practically 10 years since he spoke to them—and but they’re nonetheless being harassed again in Turkey, in keeping with Freedom.

“My dad went to a market, and folks spit on his face,” he mentioned. “And my mother cannot stroll exterior freely as a result of she will get harassed.”

Freedom mentioned he hopes to name consideration to the Turkish authorities’s cruelty.

“I actually wish to present the world what sort of particular person Erdoğan is. Western leaders usually are not doing sufficient. They’re enjoying softball with this dictatorship,” Freedom mentioned. “Diplomacy is necessary, however on the opposite aspect of the world individuals are shedding their lives, their houses and their family members.”

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