After Canadian Assurances, Celtics’ Enes Kanter Will Play Christmas Day in Toronto

Turkey seeks to arrest star as ‘terrorist’ for Gulenist ties

Boston Celtics Center Enes Kanter confirmed today that he will be in Toronto for the Christmas Day game, the result of assurances from Canadian officials that he would be safe to come to Canada and participate in the game.

This was no guarantee. The 27-year-old Kanter has missed multiple games outside of the US in the past couple of years, the result of fears for his safety because of hostility from Turkey’s Erdogan government. Kanter is a supporter of banned cleric Fethullah Gulen, and his family was targeted in the post-coup purges of Gulenists by Erdogan.

All of this has made Kanter persona non grata in Turkey. His passport was cancelled, and the Erdogan government has an outstanding arrest warrant for him as a “terrorist.” Other noteworthy Turkish basketball players have been deeply critical of him, and Kanter says he considers himself “stateless” at this point because of Turkish threats to revoke his citizenship.

Kanter famously missed a game in London while a member of the New York Knicks over security concerns, and also has missed games in Toronto for the same reason. He says Turkish goons have repeatedly harassed him even in Boston, and has claimed Turkish ministers have come to the US and told allies to limit his activities in the US.

While we don’t know the exact details of what was agreed to, Kanter credited US and Canadian officials, along with the Celtics and the NBA for getting some sort of a deal done where he is confident enough of his ability to safety go to Toronto on Christmas, play a game, and return to Boston afterwards, that he is going to participate.

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