He criticized the Turkish Erdogan regime and repeatedly addressed human rights violations in China. Now the currently unsigned NBA star Enes Freedom has to fear for his life. The former Turk confirms a New York Post report: “Everyone wants the money”.
Enes Freedom has been out of contract with the NBA since the Houston Rockets fired him shortly after acquiring him through a trade with the Boston Celtics last season. Freedom, who bore the name Enes Kanter for many years and remained so well known to most basketball fans, was always a solid offensive player and a consistent rebounder.
His declining offensive performance and poor defense may not have been the only reasons he hasn’t received an offer from a team since his layoff.
Freedom suspects his figure as a political activist and vocal critic of China plays a role in his unemployment, and claims the NBA only stands by players when it’s in their financial favour. The center has always been vocal about it political issues and human rights issues, not least because of his own involvement in the politics of his home country Turkey.
In 2017, Freedom was jailed in Romania after his passport was canceled by the Turkish embassy because Freedom criticized Turkish President Recep Erdogan. Freedom was eventually released and able to return to the US, but Turkey has issued an arrest warrant for him, allegedly as a member of a terrorist group.
The longtime NBA professional then immediately applied for US citizenship, which he was granted in 2021. Now the contractless center has been added to a new Turkey list of most wanted terrorists, which comes with Turkey putting a $500,000 bounty on his head, the New York Post reports.
“That’s what makes it so dangerous for me,” Freedom told the Post. “Before the bounty, Turkish intelligence was after the people on the list, but now everyone is after them because they want the money.” Government hates that. They’re really sick of it and they said ‘enough is enough’ and they’re doing everything they can to shut me up.”
The athlete’s name is on Turkey’s most wanted list of terrorists along with actual terrorists and other dissidents critical of the Erdoğan regime, which routinely flouts international human rights law. The list also includes more than a dozen journalists – part of one major attack on press freedom in Turkey, where the number of jailed journalists has doubled in the past year.
Freedom also said the bounty on his head meant he needed protection and was in constant contact with law enforcement and the FBI only one on this list,” Freedom said of the bounty. “There are so many journalists, so many activists and so many athletes, but they are not as well known as I am. They’re much easier targets – and they’re out there alone.”
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Originally posted by OpenCourt Basketball, Turks Put Huge Bounty on NBA Star: ‘Everyone’s after me’