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

Former NBA star Enes Kanter Freedom — who famously amended his title after turning into a US citizen in 2021 — is formally a wished man. Not solely is his title on 2023’s most-wanted terrorists checklist, however that is the primary time his former nation has really positioned a printed 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 info resulting in the seize of Freedom, who stated he came upon about it every week in the past.

“That makes it so harmful,” Freedom, 30, informed The Post. “Before the bounty, Turkish intelligence was after the folks on the checklist, however now everyone seems to be after them as a result of they need the cash.”

He additionally revealed that he’s trying into suing the NBA — “I’m ready for the best 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 checklist — with a $500,000 bounty on his head.
AFP by way of Getty Images
Freedom has never shied away from calling out what he sees as injustices, be they in China, Turkey or anywhere else.
Freedom has by no means shied away from calling out what he sees as injustices, be they in China, Turkey or anyplace else.
SALVATORE DI NOLFI/EPA-EFE/Shutt

During 11 seasons within the NBA, Freedom was recognized for his outspokenness, together with towards the Turkish authorities’s human rights abuses. He has Erdoğan known as out for being a “dictator,” stepped on a photograph of him at a protest, and even dubbed him the “Hitler of our century.”

“Because of my platform, every time I say one thing, it goes all over the place and the Turkish authorities hates that,” Freedom stated. “They’re actually sick of it, and so they stated ‘sufficient is sufficient’ and are doing no matter they will to close me up.”

The athlete’s title seems on the Turkish Terrorist Wanted List together with precise terrorists and fellow dissidents crucial of the Erdoğan regime, which has routinely defied worldwide human rights legislation. The checklist 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 previously yr.

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

Although Freedom, who now lives in Washington, DC, admitted the bounty ups his private safety issues, he stated he’s in fixed contact with native legislation enforcement and the FBI.

“I’m being protected 24/7,” he stated, including that he’s extra anxious for the security of the lesser-known Turkish dissidents on Erdoğan’s checklist.

“I’m talking out as a result of I’m not the one one on that checklist,” Freedom stated of the bounty. “There are so many journalists, so many activists, and so many athletes, however they are not as well-known as me. They are method 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 stated he has private safety however worries concerning the security of others on the checklist.
Patrick McMullan by way of Getty Images

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.

But he prompted a rift within the league — which pulls in billions of {dollars} in income from China by way of practically half a billion viewers — when he turned an outspoken critic of Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party.

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

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

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

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

“I tweeted that Hong Kong needs to be free. [Then] Le Bron stated he’s not educated sufficient concerning the state of affairs [to comment on it] and that what I tweeted damage the league,” Freedom informed The Post in 2021. “It’s unhappy that these gamers are social justice warriors, however, in relation to China, they’re scared to say something … Your values ​​are extra essential 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 shortly dropped. He 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 Images
The former player said he was pressured by those around him to ditch the shoes.
The former participant stated he was pressured by these round him to ditch the footwear.
Getty Images

“The NBA isn’t going to confess it, however I imagine I’m being blackballed,” he informed The Post. “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 best time” to sue the league.

“They are a 100% American made group, however they’re being managed and run by the most important dictatorship on this planet, China,” he stated. “How can China hearth an American citizen from an American group? That is 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 choices involving Mr. Freedom,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass informed The Post.

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

“We spoke straight about his actions this season,” Silver stated on the time. “and I made it completely clear to him that it was utterly inside his proper to talk out on points that he was captivated with.”

Since leaving the NBA, he’s working interfaith basketball camps for kids to foster unity and has been touring the world to satisfy 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 stated, regardless of being pressured to publicly disown him.

Although 2023 is the primary yr Freedom appeared on the Terrorist Wanted List, his battle with the Turkish authorities is ongoing. Leaders revoked his passport in 2017 and requested an Interpol “purple discover” — asking legislation enforcement worldwide to arrest pending extradition — in 2019.

His father, Mehmet, was jailed in Turkey, and the household was pressured to go away Freedom for their very own security, the athlete stated. It’s 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 stated. “And my mother cannot stroll outdoors freely as a result of she will get harassed.”

Freedom stated 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 should not doing sufficient. They’re taking part in softball with this dictatorship,” Freedom stated. “Diplomacy is essential, however on the opposite aspect of the world individuals are shedding their lives, their houses and their family members.”

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