Former NBA center Enes Kanter Freedom has been offered a reward of up to 10 million Turkish lira, or about $500,000, by the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for information leading to his capture.
Freedom is on the country’s most wanted terrorist list in 2023, having been famous for speaking out about human rights abuses in Turkey through the Erdogan government. He said the new york post office who found out about the bounty a week ago.
«Before the bounty, Turkish intelligence was after the people on the list, but now everyone is after them because they want the money,» Freedom told the Post.
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On top of that, Freedom says it’s looking into suing the NBA, which it says has banned it after its anti-China protests.
«I’m waiting for the right moment,» he said.
Freedom has not contained his thoughts on Erdogan throughout his NBA career, calling him a «dictator» and even going so far as to call him the «Hitler of our century.»
Freedom is on the terrorist list along with actual terrorists, others who have spoken out about Erdogan and his government, and various journalists. In the past year alone, the number of journalists who have been jailed has doubled.
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«Because of my platform, every time I say something, it goes everywhere, and the Turkish government hates that,» Freedom told the Post. «They’re really fed up with it, and they said, ‘Enough is enough,’ and they do everything they can to shut me up.»
The 30-year-old Freedom most recently played 35 games with the Boston Celtics last season in their run to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors. But Kanter is not on a team now, and he suspects it is because of his criticism of President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party.
The NBA has a strong relationship with China, where basketball is an extremely popular sport. Freedom also said things about Nike because of its manufacturing deals with China, and the sports brand also has strong ties to the league.
Freedom has worn shoes with messages including «No Beijing 2022,» «Free Tibet,» and more. He said the NBA pressured him to remove them.
Freedom was traded from the Celtics to the Houston Rockets, but they quickly dropped him after the trade.
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«The NBA will never admit it, but I think they’re excluding me,» he told the Post. «I’ve had many conversations and they all say the same thing: ‘Your career is over because of your comments about China.'»
“They are a 100% American-made organization, but they are being controlled and directed by the largest dictatorship in the world, China,” he continued. «How can China fire an American citizen from an American organization? That is unacceptable.»
The Swiss-born, Turkish-raised player became a US citizen in 2021 adding Freedom to his name. He currently lives in Washington, DC, where he is in «constant contact» with local authorities and the FBI as a result of being on Erdogan’s list.
«I’m protected 24/7,» Freedom said.
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“I speak clearly because I am not the only one on that list. There are so many journalists, so many activists and so many athletes, but they are not as well known as I am. They are much easier targets: and they are alone out there.»