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NBA showdown starring a Turk will not be on Turkish TV

Published: Updated:

Turkish television has refused to broadcast NBA games involving Enes Kanter, a Swiss-born Turkish basketball player whom Ankara alleges of having terrorist links.

Kanter has denied any terrorist links. He has been an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and describes himself as a close ally of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for a failed coup in 2016.

In 2017, Turkish authorities revoked Kanter’s Turkish passport and the country sought his detainment through Interpol red notice.

Kanter reportedly has a US green card holder and if he travels to Canada to compete, he could open himself up to arrest. The Portland Trail Blazers, of which Kanter plays center for, meet the Toronto Raptors in the upcoming NBA Finals.

The Turkish player has skipped some games out of security concerns in the past. While he was with the New York Knicks, he did not travel with the team to London for a game against Washington Wizards in January. He also did not go with the Blazers when they played in Toronto in March.

"As you know, I am a law abiding citizen both in Turkey and here in the US -- I never broke a single law in my life, didn't even have a parking ticket, but Turkish government cancels my passport... WHY? it's simply because I'm an outspoken critic of Dictator Erdogan. So, Erdogan might push all his chances through Interpol, which I believe he tries abusing it," Kanter told ESPN recently.

Kanter has a green card and has applied for US citizenship, but the process will not be finalized until 2021, according to ESPN.