OKC’s Enes Kanter detained in Romania
MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Oklahoma City Thunder’s (OKC) Enes Kanter was detained for 6 hours in Romania after his passport was “canceled” by the Turkish embassy on Saturday, May 20.
The basketball star revealed his predicament in a video posted on Twitter after arriving in Bucharest from Jakarta, Indonesia, one of the stops of his global tour for the Enes Kanter Light Foundation. Kanter had also visited the Philippines during the tour. (READ: OKC's Enes Kanter endeavors to help young Filipinos during PH visit)
In the video, Kanter said police officers “have been holding us here for hours."
He pointed to Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as behind his passport cancellation.
"The reason behind it is just, of course, my political views. And the guy who did it is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey,” said Kanter, who was also celebrating his 25th birthday on Saturday.
I'm being held at Romanian airport by Police!! pic.twitter.com/uYZMBqKx54— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 20, 2017
Romanian border police spokesman Fabian Badila told the New York 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 pm, he left the airport on a flight to London."
Kanter has been a longtime critic of Erdogan, who recently won a referendum that keeps him in power until 2029 and curbs powers of Turkey's parliament and judiciary.
Erdogan was in the United States capital on Tuesday for apparently successful talks with President Donald Trump, but his visit was marred by violence between his security detail and pro-Kurdish protesters. (READ: US expresses concern over Erdogan guards' attack on protesters)
In the video, Kanter likened Erdogan to Adolf Hitler.
"He's attacked people in Washington. He's a bad, bad man….He is a dictator, and he's the Hitler of our century,” said Kanter.
"I will keep you posted guys, but just pray for us, and I'll tell you guys what's going on,” he added.
Kanter, a 6-year NBA veteran who was born in Switzerland, was allowed to leave Romania and had flown to London, the New York Times reported, citing the NBA.
After around 6 hours of detention at the airport, Kanter announced on Twitter that he was heading to New York where he would give a press conference.
"Gots lots of things to say with lost of crazy stories. Be ready!" he said.
All good baby!— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 20, 2017
Gonna give press conference tomorrow in NY.
Got lots of things to say with lots of crazy stories.
Ohhh Yeeahhh pic.twitter.com/CXktUXk2PS
Kanter, the third overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds over 72 games this past season for the Thunder, who were ousted in the first round of the NBA playoffs. – Mara Cepeda, with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com