Oklahoma City Thunder center said he was detained in Romania and had his passport canceled due to his criticism of Recep Tayyip Erdoan
Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter, who said he was detained in Romania on Saturday morning after his passport was seized by the Turkish government, has been allowed to leave the country and is in London, the NBA said.
The Turkish native and six-year NBA veteran said he would offer more details at a press conference on Sunday in New York.
Kanter, who turned 25 on Saturday, had said in a video posted to Twitter on Saturday morning that police officers have been holding us here for hours upon arrival to Bucharest on a flight from Indonesia, where he was visiting as part of a global tour for his charitable foundation.
The 6ft 11in post man, who has become a high-profile critic of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoan, said his passport was canceled due to his political beliefs.
The reason behind it is just, of course, my political views, Kanter said, and the guy who did it is Recep Tayyip Erdoan, the president of Turkey.
A league source told the New York Times that the NBA worked with the state department to help get Kanter to London and that the next step was to get him back to the United States.
Today at around 1pm local time an individual arrived from Frankfurt, Romanian border police spokesman Fabian Badila told the Times. My colleagues established that his travel documents werent valid, that they had been canceled by his home country, so he wasnt allowed to enter the country.
At around 5pm, he left the airport on a flight to London, Badila added. While he was at the airport he wasnt detained or locked up, he was allowed to wander around, but he couldnt enter the country.
Last year, Kanter revealed he received death threats in response to his support of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Glen, Erdoans political rival. The posts, written in Turkish, include phrases such as You will die soon beside ominous images of weapons and nooses.
Kanter spoke out against Erdoans government in March after a terrorist bombing in Ankara that killed 37 people and injured more than 100, criticizing the countrys obstruction of broadcast media and access to social media.
This week, Erdoans visit to the White House was marked by a clash between his security detail and protesters outside the Turkish ambassadors residence. Nine people were hurt and two arrests were made.
Hes attacked people in Washington. Hes a bad, bad man, Kanter said in the video. He is a dictator, and hes the Hitler of our century.
I will keep you posted guys, but just pray for us, and Ill tell you guys whats going on.
Previously, Kanter, who was tabbed with the No 3 overall pick in the 2011 draft, said he was left off Turkeys national team for EuroBasket 2015 due to his political views, a claim denied by national team coach, Ergin Ataman.
Kanter averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 72 games with the Thunder, who lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Houston Rockets.