US-based Turkish basketball star Enes Kanter has been refused entry into Romania after his passport was canceled. The 25-year-old blamed his anti-Erdogan political views for the repeal of his Turkish travel document.
Enes Kanter, a center for the Oklahoma City Thunder, was refused entry into Romania and detained at Bucharest airport for two hours on Saturday, he told his followers on Twitter.
According to media reports, the 25-year-old had wanted to attend rallies linked to radical cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the Turkish government believes was behind a coup attempt last July. Kanter is known to be an outspoken supporter of Gulen's movement.
No valid travel document
Turkey's state news agency Anadolu said the reason Kanter was turned away was that his passport had been canceled by Turkish authorities.
The six-year NBA veteran was later allowed to travel on to the US via London, The New York Times reported.
Fabian Badila, a spokesman for the Romanian Border Police, told the newspaper: "My colleagues established that his travel documents weren't valid, that they had been canceled by his home country, so he wasn't allowed to enter the country. At around 5 p.m., he left the airport on a flight to London."
Romanian Foreign Minister Teodeor Melescanu said his country could not "proceed otherwise" and declined to comment further on the situation.
In a video posted to social media, Kanter blamed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the move and implied that he was being singled out due to his political support for Gulen, who has denied orchestrating the July 15 coup attempt.
The basketball star called Erdogan a "dictator" and "the Hitler of our century," before telling his Twitter followers he would give a press conference in New York on Sunday.
"Got lots of things to say with lots of crazy stories. Be ready!!! Ohhh Yeeahhh," Kanter said.
The player's agent, Melvut Cilnar, later told US media that Kanter was safe.
Kanter has been a fierce critic of Erdogan, who visited Washington this past week to meet with US President Donald Trump.
Disowned by father
Kanter said last year he had severed ties with his family and pledged allegiance to Gulen, after Turkish media published a letter signed by Kanter's father, disowning his son.
During the coup attempt, rogue soldiers in warplanes and tanks tried to seize power in Turkey in a putsch that killed more than 240 people.
Turkey declared a state of emergency and then proceeded to crack down on alleged supporters of Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999.
Tens of thousands of military, police, educators, civil servants and religious figures have subsequently been purged in the ensuing 10 months.
More than 74,000 passports have been declared invalid since the coup attempt, according to the Turkish Interior Ministry.
mm/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)