Enes Kanter, also known as Enes Freedom, is a 30-year-old center who last played in the NBA on February 8, 2022. However, despite his departure from the court, he remains in the spotlight for non-sports reasons, mostly related to his political activism and comments.
Recently, The Turkish Minute reported that the Turkish government has offered a reward of $500,000 to anyone providing information that would lead to the capture of Kanter.
Persecuted by the Turkish Government
The Turkish government has treated Kanter as a terrorist for years, due to his association with the religious leader Fethullah Gulen, who is considered one of the leaders of the 2016 coup attempt.
Members of Kanter's family, including his father, have been imprisoned, and Kanter has been critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling him the "Hitler of the 21st century" and a dictator. In 2017, Kanter's passport was revoked, and in 2019, the Turkish government filed an international request for his arrest, labeling him a terrorist.
He told the Post, “Before the bounty, Turkish intelligence were after the people on the list, but now everyone is after them because they want the money”. “Because of my platform, whenever I say something, it goes everywhere and the Turkish government hates that,” Freedom said.
“They’re really sick of it, and they said ‘enough is enough’ and are doing whatever they can to shut me up. ... I’m speaking out because I am not the only one on that list. There are so many journalists, so many activists, and so many athletes, but they aren’t as well-known as me.
They are way easier targets—and they’re alone out there”.
Turkey has issued a $500,000 bounty for the capture of Enes Kanter Freedom, who is now on the country's most-wanted terrorists list for 2023. https://t.co/zH34WASyXS — Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) January 13, 2023
Even as a player, Kanter was involved in political matters, not just those related to Turkey.
He harshly criticized Nike and LeBron James for their relationship with China, where he believes human rights are being violated, and for their inaction regarding the repression in Hong Kong following demonstrations demanding the withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill to China.
He also asked the International Olympic Committee not to hold the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
Living Under Protection
Currently, Kanter resides in Washington, living under the protection of the police and the FBI. His chances of returning to play in the NBA are slim, and he believes it's because of vetoes following his criticism and because he's an unpleasant player for the league.