Enes Kanter, a center for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, was detained on Saturday while at an airport in Romania, and Kanter alleges the reason is because he’s been a vocal critic of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey.
According to a report by ESPN, Kanter’s passport was “canceled” by the Turkish embassy on Saturday morning. Kanter, 25, is a citizen of Turkey and currently one of the nation’s most famous professional athletes.
In a video posted on Twitter, Kanter said, “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."
I'm being held at Romanian airport by Police!! pic.twitter.com/uYZMBqKx54
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 20, 2017
Kanter also asked his followers to pray for him and referred to Erdogan as the “Hitler of our century.”
"He's attacked people in Washington,” Kanter said. “He's a bad, bad man. He is a dictator, and he's the Hitler of our century.”
Kanter’s statement about people being “attacked” in “Washington” is likely a reference to the attack on Tuesday against protesters allegedly made by Erdogan’s bodyguards outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. Nine people were injured and two were arrested during the disturbing attack, which was caught on tape.
— Amerika'nın Sesi (@VOATurkish) May 17, 2017
In 2016, Kanter said his opposition to Erdogan’s government led to his family disowning him.
"Today I lost my mother, father, brothers and sisters, my family and all my relatives," Kanter wrote in a statement. "My own father asked me to change my surname. My mother, who has given me life, disowned me. My brothers and sisters, with which we have grown together, ignore me."
If Kanter is deported to Turkey by the Romanian government, he could be arrested by the Turkish government. ESPN reports the Thunder and NBA league officials are working “through the appropriate cannels” to resolve the situation.