March 08, 2019

Wyden Urges State Department to Tell Turkey its Retribution Against Enes Kanter is Unacceptable

Senator: “America cannot and must not stay silent in the face of such a blatant assault on free thought and expression”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to tell his Turkish counterparts that their retribution against Enes Kanter for his criticism of their autocratic rule is unacceptable for a U.S. ally.

Kanter, a Turkish national recently acquired by the Portland Trail Blazers from the New York Knicks, has “eloquently and powerfully exercised his freedom of conscience to criticize Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyipp Erdogan,” Wyden wrote in his letter to Pompeo. 

“President Erdogan has responded like many thin-skinned autocrats before him, by going after Mr. Kanter and his family,” Wyden wrote. “America cannot and must not stay silent in the face of such a blatant assault on free thought and expression.  This is even truer when the perpetrators of such odious behavior are supposed friends and allies.”

Among the Erdogan retaliations Wyden cited were the Turkish government’s revocation of Kanter’s passport in 2017 and its demand that INTERPOL issue a “red notice” for Kanter. The red notice has kept Kanter in the United States when the Knicks traveled this season to London and when the Trail Blazers went last week to Toronto. 

The senator also noted recent reports that Erdogan’s prosecutors are now seeking Mr. Kanter’s extradition to Turkey.

“And Mr. Kanter must be careful here as well; you will recall that President Erdogan ordered his security detail to assault peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. two years ago,” Wyden wrote Pompeo. “I call on you to raise Mr. Kanter’s case, publicly and in private, and to state for the record that the U.S. will not cooperate with “red notices” or extradition requests.”.

The entire letter is available here.

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