NBA’s Kanter tells Turkish government ‘You can’t catch me’

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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 22: Turkish NBA Player Enes Kanter speaks to media during a news conference about his detention at a Romanian airport on May 22, 2017 in New York City. Kanter returned to the U.S. after being detained for several hours at a Romanian airport following statements he made criticizing Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images/AFP

Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter on Friday tweeted contempt for media reports that Turkey’s government had issued a warrant for his arrest, according to Reuters.

“You can’t catch me. Don’t waste your breath. I will come on my own will anyway, to spit on your ugly, hateful faces,” Kanter said in a Twitter post accompanied by a photo of a story by the Sabah newspaper about the warrant.

A critic of Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan, Kanter was detained at the airport in Bucharest on May 20 when authorities learned his Turkish passport had been revoked. He returned to the United States on Sunday.

At a press conference the following day, the 6-foot, 11-inch center for the Oklahoma Thunder called Erdoğan the “Hitler of our century.”

Sabah had reported that Kanter was deemed a “fugitive” by a Turkish court for his support of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. Turkey has accused Gülen and the movement he inspired of masterminding a failed coup in Turkey last July, a charge he and the movement strongly deny.

Kanter is accused by the court of using a smart phone application known as ByLock and praising the faith-based Gülen movement from his social media accounts.

The İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s office has reportedly applied to Turkey’s Justice Ministry to ask Interpol to issue a red notice for Kanter, which would prevent him from traveling.

Kanter said he has become a target of President Erdoğan because he has been an outspoken critic.

Twenty-four-year-old Kanter is one of the most famous Turkish basketball players in the NBA. His family disowned him after he pledged support to Turkish Islamic scholar Gülen.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin officially declared Oct. 29, 2016 “Enes Kanter Day” for the professional success of the Oklahoma City Thunder player and his dedication to civic organizations in the state.

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