Oklahoma City Thunder Enes Kanter returning to U.S. after detention in Romanian airport

NBA.com staff reports with contribution from The Associated Press

May 20, 2017 4:13 PM ET

Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter is returning to the United States after being detained in a Romanian airport. Romanian Border Police spokesman Fabian Badila confirmed to The Associated Press that the player left Romania for the United States via London.

Kanter, who is from Turkey, got an assist from NBA officials in clearing up passport problems, according to the New York Times.

This six-year NBA veteran was on an international tour doing charity events and had been detained upon arrival in Romania earlier Saturday and said he had his passport “canceled” by authorities.

"Today at around 1 p.m. local time an individual arrived from Frankfurt," Romanian border police spokesman Fabian Badila told the Times. "My colleagues established that his travel documents weren't valid, that they had been canceled by his home country, so he wasn't allowed to enter the country.

“At around 5 p.m., he left the airport on a flight to London," Badila added. "While he was at the airport he wasn't detained or locked up, he was allowed to wander around, but he couldn't enter the country.”

Kanter, who turned 25 on Saturday, is known to support Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric based in the United States who has been accused of orchestrating last year’s failed coup against Erdogan.

If Kanter were to be deported to Turkey rather than being allowed to continue his travels, he could face imprisonment. The Turkish authorities have arrested thousands of people thought to be supporters of Mr. Gulen since the failed coup, which Turkey’s government believes Mr. Gulen led.

Kanter was in the midst of a tour for his Enes Kanter Light Foundation when he arrived in Bucharest, the Romanian capital, and was subsequently detained.

“The reason behind it is, of course, my political views,” Kanter said in the video, in which he claimed to have been in custody for hours.

“You guys know him by, you know, he has attacked the people in Washington,” Kanter said in reference to a recent episode involving Mr. Erdogan’s bodyguards and protesters in Washington. “He is a bad, bad man; he is a dictator and he is the Hitler of our century.”

National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts told the Sports Business Journal that the union was “in conversations with the State Department as well as the league” regarding Kanter.


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