Washington (July 23, 2019) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today met with National Basketball League (NBA) player Enes Kanter to discuss helping Kanter travel outside of the United States next season as part of his job as an NBA player. Kanter is a Turkey native who has been a vocal critic of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As a result of his criticism, President Erdogan revoked Kanter’s passport in 2017 and issued an arrest warrant for the NBA player. Kanter has not traveled outside of the United States, even for basketball games, for fear of international arrest. Kanter previously played for the Portland Trail Blazers and now plays for the Boston Celtics.
“Setting aside our respect for Enes Kanter as a professional basketball player and athlete, we applaud Mr. Kanter’s willingness to speak freely against authoritarianism, even as he and his family are threatened,” said Senators Markey and Wyden. “We oppose any attempt by foreign leaders to weaponize international law enforcement to track down and punish those who rightly call out their oppression. We are committed to working with Mr. Kanter so that he can travel safely outside the United States to fully do his job and exercise his right to free speech.”
“I thank Senators Markey and Wyden for their leadership, support not only for their efforts to restore basic human rights for myself, like travel, freedom of speech, but also indirectly helping millions of others in my shoes under Dictator Erdogan’s oppression in Turkey,” said Kanter.