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Turkey seeks arrest warrant for Knicks' Enes Kanter, report says

Turkish newspaper says that the Istanbul's chief prosecutor's office has prepared an extradition request for him.

Enes Kanter of the Knicks reacts after committing

Enes Kanter of the Knicks reacts after committing a foul against the Hornets at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 9, 2018. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish prosecutors are seeking an international arrest warrant for Knicks center Enes Kanter, accusing him of membership in a terror organization.

Sabah newspaper says the Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office has prepared an extradition request for him. Officials at the prosecutor’s office could not be reached by The Associated Press for comment.

Kanter, who didn’t travel with the Knicks this week for Thursday’s game in London because he feared he could be killed over his opposition to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, responded on Twitter that the Turkish government could not present “any single piece of evidence of my wrongdoing.”

“I don’t even have a parking ticket in the U.S.,” he wrote Wednesday.

Knicks coach David Fizdale said in London on Wednesday that he didn’t know about the report.

“We miss him,” Fizdale said. “That’s a decision we respect and understand. We’ll be happy to see him when we get back.”

Teammate Mario Hezonja is a close friend of Kanter’s.

“I’m just extremely sad that he’s not with us,” Hezonja said. “As you all know he’s an amazing guy to have around, so I’m just sad that he’s not with us and he’s not going to be on the court with us.”

Added teammate Mitchell Robinson, “He felt like he shouldn’t have came and I kind of agree with him. It’s his decision. We miss him a lot. We’re going to need him.”

Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Erdogan, and his Turkish passport was revoked in 2017.

This time, Sabah says prosecutors are seeking an Interpol “Red Notice” citing Kanter’s ties to exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for a failed coup in 2016, and accusing him of providing financial support to his group.

Kanter said he feared assassination if he left the U.S. or Canada when he announced last week that he wouldn’t travel with the Knicks.. The team said at the time Kanter wouldn’t make the trip because of a visa issue.

Kanter denied that was the problem, even posting a photo of a travel document on social media, and made it clear his issue was his safety because of Ergodan, whom he has referred to as “the Hitler of our century.”

“They’ve got a lot of spies there,” he said. “I think I can get killed there easy. It would be a very ugly situation.”

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he said: “Mr. Kanter deserves the peace of mind knowing that the United State and its government stands with him and will not be threatened by a bully masquerading as a world leader.”

While the Knicks are overseas, Kanter has posted a number of photos of himself meeting with U.S. congressmen. He also wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post explaining his decision and his reasons for standing against Ergodan.

“My decision not to travel to London was difficult from a competitive standpoint but much easier from a safety one,” he wrote. “It helps puts a spotlight on how a dictator is wrecking Turkey — people have been killed, thousands are unjustly imprisoned, and countless lives have been ruined. That is no game.”

-With Steve Popper

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