ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish prosecutors are seeking the extradition of New York Knicks center Enes Kanter over his links to the U.S.-based cleric accused of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016, state-owned Anadolu news agency said.
FILE PHOTO: Dec 29, 2018; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; New York Knicks center Enes Kanter (00) warms up prior to the game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Kanter, a vocal critic of President Tayyip Erdogan, was indicted by a Turkish court last year over alleged membership of an “armed terrrorist group” after being contacted repeatedly by people close to Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen.
The Istanbul prosecutors’ office was not immediately available to comment on the report on Wednesday.
Anadolu said on Tuesday prosecutors had sought the issue of a “red notice” for Kanter, an Interpol request to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition.
It said the extradition request includes social media comments made about Gulen by Kanter, who has often declared his support for the cleric.
Turkey previously revoked Kanter’s passport, and declared him a fugitive for his support of Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of being behind the attempted putsch of July 2016 – an accusation Gulen denies.
In May 2017, Kanter was refused entry into Romania because of the cancellation of his Turkish passport.
Earlier this month, Kanter said he would not go to London for a game with his NBA team because he fears he could be assassinated for criticizing Erdogan.
Since the putsch attempt, some 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial and 150,000 state employees including teachers, judges and soldiers have been suspended or dismissed in a crackdown on alleged supporters of Gulen.
Kanter holds a U.S. green card that allows him to live and work in the country on a permanent basis.
Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by David Dolan