- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Washington Wizards‘ game against the New York Knicks in London’s O2 Arena on Thursday may be overshadowed by controversy surrounding a player who won’t make the trip.

Prosecutors from Turkey are seeking an international arrest warrant for Knicks center Enes Kanter, accusing him of membership in a terror organization, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

It’s the latest escalation in a dispute between Turkey and Kanter, a famous critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government.

Kanter does not have a passport from either his native Turkey or the U.S., but he said even if he had one, he would be too fearful for his life to enter Europe in case the Turkish government tried to assassinate him.

“They’ve got a lot of spies there. I can get killed very easy,” Kanter said earlier this month.

Kanter has expressed criticism of Erdogan and his government, which led to Turkey issuing an arrest warrant in 2017 and Kanter’s father losing his job at a university in the country. His family had to disown him for his anti-Erdogan views.

With the London game approaching this week, Kanter has continued to speak out, most notably writing an op-ed for The Washington Post in which he insisted he will not stick to sports.

“‘Keep calm and play ball.’ That’s what some people tell me when I use my National Basketball Association platform to speak out against Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, the place I grew up and where my family still lives,” Kanter wrote. “The advice I prefer comes from Colin Kaepernick’s Nike ad campaign: ‘Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.’”

On Wednesday, Kanter met with Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican and a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, to discuss human rights issues in Turkey:

And on Twitter, where Kanter has more than 417,000 followers (though his account was reportedly banned in Turkey), he’s continued to defend himself against the latest developments, without losing his sense of humor:

The NBA has played a regular season game in London every year since 2013, plus two games in 2011. This is the first time the Wizards are playing a regular season contest outside of North America.

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