Oregon Senator Ron Wyden called out Turkish President Erdogan over the treatment of Portland Trail Blazers centre player Enes Kanter and his family, arguing that the State Department should take measures to help Kanter.
"Mr. Erdogan, the world is watching how you treat Enes Kanter's father this week and in the weeks ahead", Wyden said from the Senate floor, emphatically repeating:
"Mr. Erdogan, the world is watching how you treat Mr. Kanter both when he is on American soil and when Enes travels abroad".
Wyden went on to state that the US would by no means “stand idly by” as Enes and his family are subjected to “this autocratic torment”, assuring that the country will go to great lengths to ensure that Kanter can safely travel with the Oregon-based Trail Blazers and campaign for the “freedom of his people”.
Turkish basketball player Enes Kanter has been at odds with Istanbul, with the Turkish government alleging that Kanter is a terrorist, and so is his father, due to their support for Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Istanbul of masterminding a failed coup back in 2016.
Gulen, whose extradition is demanded by Turkey, currently lives in the US, and he, in turn, denies any role in the botched coup d’etat effort aimed to depose the Turkish president.
Istanbul linked Kanter to Gulen, revoked the sportsman’s passport and then issued an international warrant for his arrest, which has rendered Kanter unable to play NBA games in Toronto and London. His father was subsequently indicted over his alleged membership “in a terror group”.
Well over 50,000 people have been arrested since the crackdown began in summer 2016, and over 160,000 have been laid off on accusations of being involved in the alleged Gulenist conspiracy.