Enes Kanter won't travel with Knicks to London due to fear of Turkish president

Knicks star Enes Kanter will not make the trip to London with the team for the Knicks’ game Jan. 17 against the Wizards out of “fear for his life” because of tensions with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Sadly, I’m not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president,” said Kanter, a native of Turkey, after the Knicks defeated the Lakers 119-112 on Friday (via ESPN).

“There’s a chance that I can get killed out there. So that’s why I talked to the front office. I’m not going,” he said. “It’s pretty sad that just all this stuff affects my career and basketball, because I want to be out there helping my team win. But just because of that one lunatic guy, one maniac or dictator, I can’t even go out there and just do my job.”

A team official said Kanter won’t travel due to a visa issue, but Kanter reiterated he doesn’t feel safe traveling to London. Instead, he said, “I’m just going to stay here, just practice here.”

The Turkish government issued an arrest warrant for Kanter after he spoke out against Erdogan, according to Yahoo Sports. The Turkish government also revoked Kanter’s passport while he was abroad two summers ago, which required American diplomats to intervene so he wouldn’t be sent back to his native country and arrested. In June, Kanter’s father was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Turkish government, a move the Knicks’ player said was made to punish him.

When asked if he believes he could be killed if he travels to London, Kanter explained, “Oh yeah, easy. They got a lot of spies there. I could get killed very easy. It would be a very ugly situation.”