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Enes Kanter Freedom speaks out on $500,000 bounty from Turkish government

While leading a basketball camp in Vatican City, Enes Kanter Freedom received a phone call from the FBI. Freedom was told to return to America immediately.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government placed a bounty worth up to 10 million Turkish lira, or $500,000, for his capture.

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The former NBA center revealed more about his initial reaction to the news in an interview on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

“When I had a conversation with my friends on the ground, they said the mafia, the serial killers actually, professional hitmen and cartels could be after my case,” said Freedom. “And I was speechless. I was like, ‘This is this cannot be happening to an American citizen in U.S. soil.'”

Freedom, who most recently played on the Boston Celtics during their run to the 2022 NBA Finals, was also placed on Turkey’s most-wanted terrorists list. He has been vocal about human rights abuses in his parents’ home country and Erdogan’s leadership, referring to the Turkish president as the ‘Hitler of our century.’

But it appears Freedom will continue to call out injustices in Turkey.

“You know, I’m not the only one. There are so many journalists, academics, professors and celebrities on that list,” Freedom said.

Threats have prevented Freedom from returning to Turkey to see his family for nearly ten years, yet he still believes the nation can serve as “the bridge between Islam and the West.” On Wednesday, Freedom had a clear message for the Biden administration.

“It’s been almost two years and he has not done a thing yet. We have to prioritize human rights. There are so many political prisoners and innocent people in the jail waiting for help,” said Freedom.

This isn’t the first time the former player has been outspoken about human rights violations around the globe. 

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Off the court, Freedom has clashed with Lebron James and called out the NBA for its lucrative relationship with China. On the court, he’s donned sneakers with messages about Xi Jinping and the treatment of the Uyghur community. 

Freedom has made the argument that his speaking out played a role in why he is no longer in the league.

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