US-based Turkish basketball star Enes Kanter was refused entry into Romania on Saturday because his Turkish passport had been canceled, Romanian border police said.
Kanter, who plays in the NBA for Oklahoma City Thunder, is a long-time supporter of Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, whose extradition Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan is seeking in relation to a failed coup last July.
“I’m being held at Romanian airport by police,” Kanter wrote, along with a photo of him with his arms around two police officers and a video describing what he said was his situation.
“We are in Romania and they said they canceled my passport by Turkish embassy,” he said in the video, speaking in English. “You know because the reason behind it is just of course my political views.”
I'm being held at Romanian airport by Police!! pic.twitter.com/uYZMBqKx54
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 20, 2017
When mentioning President Erdogan, Kanter called him the “Hitler of our century” and referred to a recent attack on protestors saying: “You guys know him by, you know, he has attacked the people in Washington.”
Kanter’s agent Mevlut Cinar said he and Kanter expected to return to the US from London “very soon” but did not elaborate.
Romanian border police said in a statement that Kanter had come from the United States and made a stop in Frankfurt.
“At the border checkpoint it was discovered that his passport is not valid, his travel document being annulled by the issuing state,” the statement said, adding he then flew on to London.
Turkish officials were not immediately available to comment.
Kanter said last year he had severed ties with his family and pledged allegiance to Gulen after Turkish media published a letter signed by Kanter’s father, disowning his son.
During the coup attempt, rogue soldiers in warplanes and tanks tried to seize power in Turkey in a putsch that killed more than 240 people. Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile since 1999, has denied involvement.