Turkish Basketball Federation chief Türkoğlu slams Kanter’s ‘smear campaign’
Kanter said last week he would not join the Knicks for a game against the Milwaukee Bucks in London on Jan. 17 because he fears he “might be murdered by Turkish spies” for his criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“There’s a chance that I can get killed out there,” Kanter said. “They have a lot of spies there. I can be killed easily.”
Kanter is a devoted follower of Fethullah Gülen, leader of FETÖ that is widely believed to have masterminded the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt.
Türkoğlu, who played for six NBA clubs from 2000-2015, called Kanter’s comments “delusions” and cited the Knicks saying Kanter, whose passport was canceled by the Turkish embassy in May 2017, would not travel due to visa issues.
“In other words, Kanter cannot enter the U.K. not because of fears for his life but due to passport and visa issues. This being the long-known truth, he is trying to get the limelight with irrational justifications and political remarks,” Türkoğlu said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“Such remarks constitute another example of the political smear campaign Kanter has been conducting against Turkey as well as his efforts to attribute importance to himself by covering up the contradictions in his sports career.
“Kanter not only targeted the Republic of Turkey, governed by the rule of law, but he also regarded the British security forces as weak and attempted to harm Turkish-British relations. It’s obvious this person’s remarks are irrational and distort the truth.”