Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter said he still receives death threats on a weekly basis and the only place he ever goes alone is to the bathroom.
The NBA player, who has openly criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told Fox 11 that he continues to use his platform as an athlete to bring attention to the problems plaguing his home country – despite the danger he says he now faces.
“It’s very sad what’s going on with my country … There is no democracy, there is no freedom, there [are] no human rights in Turkey,” he said. “I’m trying to use this platform to talk about the issues going on in my country and they hate that because when I talk, it becomes a conversation and it goes viral.”
After years of public criticism, Kanter has become the target of an international arrest warrant issued by Erdogan who has accused the player of being a terrorist.
“They are claiming that I am a bad guy, even called me a terrorist. All I’m trying to do is be the voice for the people who don’t have a voice.”
Kanter had his Turkish passport revoked in 2017 as a result of his criticism and opted out of an international game in London in January over fears he could be assassinated.
“I talked to the front office and sadly I’m not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president,” Kanter said at the time. “There’s a chance I can get killed out there. That’s why I talked to the front office, and I’m not going so I’m just going to stay here and just practice here.”
Kanter told Fox 11 that he is putting his own safety at risk to give the suppressed people in his country a voice.
“I’m sacrificing everything — myself, my career, basketball, even my life to talk about these issues because… There are 80,000 people in the jail right now who don’t have a voice — their stories are way worse than mine.”
Kanter has increased his personal security in light of his activism and said that the only place he goes alone is the bathroom.
The NBA star said he hopes to speak with President Trump, whom he thinks may be the “only one who can help those innocent people.”
A letter written by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. this week called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to help defend Kanter against Erdogan’s calls for extradition.
Fox News’ Amy Lieu contributed to this report.