By Daniel Trotta
NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York Knicks player Enes Kanter has urged US President Donald Trump to talk more about human rights in Turkey, after Istanbul prosecutors have asked for more information. Arrest and extradition of the basketball player for his ties with a US-based cleric.
The center, aged 26, strongly criticized Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his record on human rights. Last year, a Turkish court charged him with belonging to an armed terrorist group, which he denied.
The Attorney General of Istanbul has requested a "red notice" to Interpol to arrest the basketball player and asked for his extradition, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office said Thursday. Interpol declined to comment.
Kanter describes himself as a close ally of the American Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, wanted in Turkey, suspected of having orchestrated a failed coup d'etat in 2016. Gulen denies the accusation.
Kanter said he had received death threats because of his views and that he had decided not to play his team's game in London on Thursday as a result of fears that agents from the Turkish government or Erdogan's supporters can not hurt him.
"I think Trump should definitely talk about these issues with what is happening in Turkey because there are a lot of reports of people being kidnapped, being tortured in prison, being killed," Kanter told Reuters on Wednesday in New York. York.
Turkish authorities have jailed some 77,000 people awaiting trial since the coup attempt, while 150,000 state employees, including teachers, judges and soldiers, have been jailed suspended or dismissed as part of a crackdown on alleged supporters of Gulen.
Turkey said the scale of the crackdown was made necessary by the threat emanating from the Gulen network. Some 250 people were killed in the failed coup when rogue soldiers requisitioned fighter planes, tanks and helicopters to seize power.
Amnesty International said in a report last year that it had evidence that some of those arrested since the coup attempt were beaten and tortured. Turkish government officials denied the charges of torture while in detention.
A representative of the Turkish Embassy in Washington addressed questions to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding Kanter's comments. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In an email, Robin Sirin, a Gulen assistant, said the clerk was "unable to respond to interview requests at the moment because of persistent health issues."
Kanter said that he had met with Republicans and Democrats in Congress, but that he had yet spoken to anyone about the Trump administration and that he would like to have the time necessary with the president to discuss human rights in Turkey.
The White House declined to comment.
Erdogan said that human rights in Turkey have improved for 16 years that he is in power.
211 cm (6 feet 11 inches) Kanter said that he had decided not to travel with his team to London for Thursday's game against the Washington Wizards at 9:00 pm GMT (3 pm EST) prior to the report of the application d & # 39; extradition. He said that he would watch the match from his apartment in New York.
"I'm going to put my double zero jersey and feel like I'm sitting on the bench with my teammates and I'm going to cheer them on," Kanter said. "I want to feel like I'm in the game."
The Knicks lost 101-100 against the Washington Wizards at the NBA game at the O2 Arena.
(Report by Daniel Trotta in New York, additional report by Humeyra Pamuk and Jeff Mason in Washington, edited by Nick Tattersall and Clarence Fernandez)