Basketball star Enes Kanter Freedom says his former nation has a bounty on his head and has declared him a terrorist.
Freedom, who adopted the last name in 2021 when he became a U.S. citizen, played 11 years in the NBA and developed a reputation as one of the more outspoken athletes on human rights issues.
In response, the Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has put him on a wanted list for terrorism and is offering up to 10 million Turkish Lira, which comes to about $500,000, for information that will lead to Freedom’s capture.
“That makes it so dangerous. Before the bounty, Turkish intelligence were after the people on the list, but now everyone is after them because they want the money,” he said.
“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.”
Freedom said he is “being protected 24/7” he said but others on the Turkish government list of people it wants silence might not have the same protection and are “way easier targets — and they’re alone out there.”
Come and get it @RTErdogan!
Wanna waste half a million?
Be my guest… pic.twitter.com/3jLAqVF2V5
— Enes FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) January 13, 2023
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“I’m not the only one. There are so many innocent journalists, academics, athletes, activists and educators on this list. Now their lives are in danger because of the Turkish government,” Freedom told the Turkish Minute.
He said he hopes that the bounties will help the world focus on the need to change in Turkey.
“I hope the world will open its eyes and put an end to Erdoğan’s human rights violations,” he said.
I can’t believe it came down to KILLING ME!
If I get killed in the near future, @RTErdogan regime is responsible for it.
— Enes FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) January 11, 2023
Freedom said that after a trade from the Boston Celtics to the Houston Rockets last season, and his subsequent release from the team, he has been blackballed from the NBA for attacking its deference to China, according to the Post
“The NBA is never going to admit it, but I believe I’m being blackballed. I’ve had many conversations and everyone is saying the same thing: ‘Your career has ended because of your China comments,’” he said.
“They are a 100 percent American-made organization, but they are being controlled and run by the biggest dictatorship in the world, China. How can China fire an American citizen from an American organization? That is unacceptable,” he said, adding that he may sue the league.
— Enes FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) January 5, 2023
“The league office has had no involvement in team roster decisions involving Mr. Freedom,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.
Jeffrey Ngo, who supported democracy in Hong Kong, said Freedom’s anti-China comments “must have at least played a role” in the end of his NBA career, according to The New York Times.
“All of a sudden there’s all this attention and people telling him to stop talking about it or there would be consequences. And then those consequences came,” he said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.