Turkish basketball star who changed name to Gulen says his passport has been seized

#TurkeyCoup

Outspoken government critic Enes Kanter said that his passport had been 'cancelled' by the Turkish embassy

Enes Kanter poses with police in a photo posted on his Twitter account following his detention (Twitter)
MEE staff's picture
Last update: 
Saturday 20 May 2017 16:52 BST
Topics: 

A basketball player who changed his name to "Gulen" in solidarity with the exiled US-based Turkish cleric has been detained at a Romanian airport and had his passport confiscated, he has claimed.

Speaking to his followers on Twitter, Enes Kanter - forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder team - said that his passport had been "cancelled" by the Turkish embassy and that he had been held for hours in the Bucharest airport:

"The reason behind it is just, of course, my political views," Kanter said in the video. "And the guy who did it is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey."

He also referenced the incident in Washington on Tuesday when Erdogan's bodyguards attacked a number of protesters during a state visit.

"He's attacked people in Washington. He's a bad, bad man," Kanter said in the video. "He is a dictator, and he's the Hitler of our century.

"I will keep you posted guys, but just pray for us, and I'll tell you guys what's going on."

Kanter, a staunch supporter of the controversial cleric Fethullah Gulen, announced in August 2016 that he would be changing his name to support the cleric, who is currently facing possible extradition to Turkey over his alleged involvement in the failed coup attempt.

“I am willing to sacrifice my entire family and descendants for the Hocaefendi [Gulen]," he wrote in a statement.

"Persevere brothers and sisters. Grit your teeth together and don’t fail this test.

"From now on my father, mother and family is Hizmet, which flies the Turkish flag in 171 countries.”

He signed off the statement "Enes (Kanter) GULEN."

Oklahoma City Thunder said they were looking into the case and working through the appropriate channels, according to ESPN.

The 6ft-11in centre position player dunked with the Turkish national team for the first time in 2011 at the EuroBasket tournament. He appeared in eight games and averaged 3.9 rebounds and 9.6 points per game, according to Sabah.

Like many Muslims across the globe, Kanter studied as a child at a Gulen-funded school in Turkey and has publicly declared himself a supporter of the Hizmet ("service") movement.

Gulen was previously a staunch ally of current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but the two fell out after Gulen supporters in the judiciary and police implicated Erdogan and his sons in a corruption scandal in 2013.

The Gulen movement (referred to as the Gulenist Terror Organisation or FETO by the government) was designated a "terrorist organisation" in December 2015.

Gulen and his supporters in the worldwide Hizmet movement claim that the cleric's brand of Islam, which is purportedly liberal, modernistic and supportive of science and women's rights, is a progressive blueprint for Muslims.

His opponents accuse him of building shadowy deep state organisations that have infiltrated the military, police, civil service and judiciary within Turkey.