Former NBA star Enes Kanter Freedom made a name for himself by speaking out against human rights abuses in his home country of Turkey, as well as in China, even calling out the NBA for its ties to the communist country.
But his efforts to highlight global human rights violations have come at a price. Not only has he not been able to see his family in Turkey for nearly a decade, but he's been listed on Turkey's Terrorist Wanted List. As such, the country placed a bounty on the Turkish-American athlete, who became a U.S. citizen in 2021 and took on the surname "Freedom."
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government is offering 10 million Lira, or the equivalent of $500,000, for information leading to his capture.
"Before the bounty, Turkish intelligence were after the people on the list, but now everyone is after them because they want the money," he told the New York Post recently.
"Because of my platform, whenever I say something, it goes everywhere, and the Turkish government hates that," Freedom said. "They're really sick of it, and they said 'enough is enough' and are doing whatever they can to shut me up."
While the memes are funny, this bounty is no joke.— Enes FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) January 16, 2023
The FBI is on my case collecting data daily on the dangerous people being hired to murder me.
Be aware when you post as a joke, it’s collected into the data pool and creating inaccurate results.
These are only a few of hundreds of Death Threats I have received in the last couple of days!— Enes FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) January 15, 2023
Soon,the whole world is going to understand what kind of monster you are @rterdogan
Stand with me,shoulder to shoulder,
my brothers & sisters.
Let’s call out this evil man @rterdogan pic.twitter.com/us0xwzQUwP
Due to that bounty, Freedom said he received an urgent call from the FBI while he was leading a basketball camp in Vatican City—they told him to return to the U.S. immediately.
Recalling his initial reaction to the news, Freedom said it left him "speechless."
On Wednesday, while speaking to Fox News's Tucker Carlson about the bounty, Freedom called on the Biden administration to take action against Turkey.
"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," he said.
Lawmakers are also calling on the Biden administration to address the threat against Freedom.
Last week, Turkey put a $500,000 bounty on @EnesFreedom's head for speaking out against their authoritarian regime. We've heard NOTHING from Biden–only SILENCE. I am calling on him to immediately take concrete action to hold Turkey accountable for putting a bounty on Enes Kanter.— Rep. Kevin Hern (@repkevinhern) January 17, 2023