Enes Kanter is a center for the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he is first and foremost a Turkish citizen who cares deeply for his countrymen. He has been critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling him the “Hitler of our century.”
Well, Erdogan doesn’t like criticism, and Kanter, 25, found that out firsthand: He had his Turkish passport revoked in Romania this past weekend.
“At that moment, I was thinking, ‘I need to leave that country as soon as possible,’ or they’re going to say, ‘Okay, you got no country, your passport has been cancelled, you cannot go back to America – we’ll send you back to Turkey,’” Kanter said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “If I go back to Turkey, you won’t hear a word from me – ever again.”
Erdogan has reportedly jailed more than 40,000 people accused of plotting a failed coup. He’s also shut down thousands of civil groups and hundreds of news outlets.
“President Erdogan wants robots,” Kanter said. “He doesn’t want humans. He doesn’t want nobody to ask him questions. If somebody asks him questions or if somebody questions what he’s doing . . . he’s trying to just (silence them). I’ve been outspoken (against him) because there’s a lot of people out there. The numbers show that after the coup attempt, he shut down schools, dormitories, universities. Innocent people (are in jail). He’s fighting against education. Who (would shut) down hospitals? Who (would shut) down universities?”
Kanter hopes to become a U.S. citizen.
“I’m open for adoption,” he said. “I have my green card. That’s how I (got) into the United States. I think it takes five years after you get your green card to become an American citizen, but I’m going to try to speed up the process if I can.”
Asked if he plans on returning to Turkey, Kanter didn’t hesitate.
“No way,” he said. “No way.”