LOS ANGELES — Enes Kanter won’t journey to London when the New York Knicks play the Washington Wizards on Jan. 17, saying he fears for his life as a result of of his ongoing conflict with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kanter, a local of Turkey, has been an outspoken critic of the Turkish authorities and Erdogan. A Knicks crew official mentioned Kanter won’t journey as a result of of a visa challenge, however Kanter mentioned he didn’t really feel secure making the journey.

“Sadly, I am not going as a result of of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president,” Kanter mentioned after the Knicks’ 119-112 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. “There’s an opportunity that I can get killed on the market. In order that’s why I talked to the [Knicks’] entrance workplace. I am not going.

“It is fairly unhappy that simply all these things impacts my profession and basketball, as a result of I would like to be on the market serving to my crew win. However simply because of that one lunatic man, one maniac or dictator, I can not even go on the market and simply do my job. So it is fairly unhappy.”

Requested if he actually believes that he may very well be killed if he travels to London, Kanter mentioned, “Oh yeah, simple.

“They have rather a lot of spies there,” he mentioned. “I can get killed very simple. That might be a really ugly state of affairs.”

Kanter has mentioned he believes the Turkish authorities has focused his father previously as a result of of the participant’s essential stance in opposition to the nation’s authorities. In 2017, Kanter’s Turkish passport was canceled and he was held at a Romanian airport upon touchdown in Bucharest.

In 2016, Kanter spoke out in opposition to Erdogan following a bombing in Ankara, Turkey’s capital metropolis. Kanter, who has obtained demise threats, helps Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Turkish cleric who has been exiled from Turkey and is a bitter rival of Erdogan’s. The Turkish authorities has accused Gulen of masterminding a failed navy coup in 2016. Gulen has denied the allegation.

In accordance to a report by The New York Occasions, Erdogan has jailed, fired or suspended tens of hundreds of individuals accused of plotting a failed coup. In December 2017, Turkey’s state-run information company, Anadolu Company, reported that prosecutors had been looking for greater than 4 years in jail for Kanter on costs of insulting Erdogan in a collection of tweets he posted in 2016.

Kanter mentioned he has averted worldwide journey for his security, apart from journeys to Canada when the Knicks play the Toronto Raptors.

Stated Kanter: “So I am simply going to keep right here, simply observe right here.”

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