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5 Jan, 2019 17:39

'I can get killed out there': Turkish NBA star Kanter refuses UK trip over assassination fears

'I can get killed out there': Turkish NBA star Kanter refuses UK trip over assassination fears

New York Knicks center Enes Kanter says he will not travel to London for his side's upcoming NBA game with the Washington Wizards because he is fearful of being assassinated for his views on the Turkish government.

Kanter's absence from the trip was explained by the Knicks organization as being due to a visa issue, though the player's recent comments appear to dispute this.

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The Turk is an outspoken critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and has previously been detained in Romania after Turkish authorities cancelled his passport - a move which the player says was in direct response to comments made about the Turkish political system. 

Kanter, who has referred to Erdogan as a "bad, bad man" and a "dictator," was forced to abandon the plans to travel to Romania in 2017 and returned to the US via London after his documentation was cancelled by the issuing state.

"There's a chance that I can get killed out there. So I'm just going to stay here," Kanter said of the decision to not travel to London with the rest of his team.

"I can't even go out there and just do my job. So it's pretty sad. I want to be out there helping my team."

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An arrest warrant was issued in the summer of 2018 for Kanter's father Mehmet, a university professor, after he was accused of collaborating with a banned organization. 

It had been claimed by Turkish authorities that he had been in contact with 127 suspected members of the Gulenist groups FETO and PDY. 

Fethullah Gulen is an exiled Turkish cleric living in the US, and who is accused by Turkey of being behind the failed coup attempt of 2016.