A few hours later, the NBA told the New York Times that it had worked with the State Department to ensure his release and that he had arrived safely in London. Kanter then followed that up with a tweet saying "All good baby," announcing he'll hold a press conference in New York on Sunday to share the details.
It appears that Kanter has avoided any real trouble for now, but there's no denying that he was in an extremely serious situation. Here's some background to help explain why Kanter was temporarily detained on Saturday.
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Why would Kanter be detained?
Kanter is a Turkish national who was raised in the country before coming to the United States to play at a California Prep school and then at Kentucky.
The situation in Turkey over the last 10 months has become increasingly unstable. The president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has increased his authoritarian rule over the country — which is at the nexus of Europe and the Middle East — since a military coup d'état was attempted last July.
Erdogan blamed the followers of the Gülen movement for the coup and has played the role of a strongman ruler, rooting out and removing dissonance in government, the military, and universities, and by revoking the passports of Kurds, Alevis – a branch of Shia Islam – and supporters of Gülen living abroad.
Kanter is one of the most outspoken Gülen supporters.
Who is Gülen?
Fethullah Gülen is a preacher and political figure who has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999.
Gülen fled to the United States after he was alleged to be plotting a coup to set up an Islamic state in Turkey.
From the United States, Gülen teaches a self-described "moderate blend of Islam" (Erdogan is a conservative) and developed a strong following in both the Turkish police force and judiciary.
The Gülen movement rose to prominence through a coalition with Erdogan, but after the coalition party — the AKP — won three straight elections the two sects started feuding.
In 2014, the Erdogan government issued an arrest warrant for Gülen (who was in the States) and some of his supporters for running an "armed terrorist group."
That feuding culminated with the coup attempt last July, though some believe that Erdogan, who was the country's prime minister for three governments before becoming the nation's president, staged the coup in order to further consolidate power.
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Why would they take his passport?
Since the 2016 coup attempt, Erdogan has been effectively running a reverse coup.
Followers of Gülen have been rooted out of all levels of the state — the government claimed that 70,000 were processed as part for their involvement with the coup attempt. The government also released nearly 40,000 prisoners to make room for those arrested for their perceived roles in the coup — a group of people who are disproportionately Gülen supporters.
Supporters of Gülen and critics of Erdogan living abroad, like Kanter, who called Erdogan "The Hitler of our century" in a video posted to Twitter from Romania today, have seen their passports revoked without warning or given reason. The government revoked the passports of 50,000 after the coup and have not stopped revoking (it's gone in waves) since.
Kanter, again, leaves no room for interpretation when it comes to his pro-Gülen, anti-Erdogan stance. His family has disowned him — perhaps through political pressure — for that support. In a tweet following his family's disowning, Kanter signed a statement with the name Enes Gülen.
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It's hard to say, but this was an incredibly serious situation. Because he did not have a passport, Kanter could have been deported from Romania to Turkey, where he likely would have been arrested.
Thankfully, he appears to be safe for now, and we'll await the details of his story, which he promised to provide on Sunday.