Knicks’ Kanter to skip London trip for political reasons

Mitchell Robinson

Mitchell Robinson

The Los Angeles Lakers will be without LeBron James for the fifth straight game tonight when they host the New York Knicks at Staples Center, and he won't be travelling on the team's upcoming two-game road trip either.

Kanter told reporters after the team's win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday that he would not attend the London game because of the possibility of an assassination attempt from spies of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's regime.

The forward announced his decision after the Knicks 119-112 win over the LA Lakers on Friday night and insisted that his plan to stay in America stems from concerns over his safety.

"I talked to the front office and sadly I'm not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president", he said. Kanter said he won't travel for fear that he might be killed by agents working for the government of his native Turkey. Because I want to be out there but just because of that one lunatic guy, that one maniac, I can't go out there and do my job.

When asked if he really believes that he could be killed if he travels to London, Kanter said, "Oh yeah, easy".

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Kanter added he believed Turkey had many spies in London. "I can get killed pretty easy".

Kanter, who plays centre position, has been a vocal critic of Mr Erdogan for years, and once referred to him as "the Hitler of our century". "That will be a very ugly situation". In 2017, Kanter's Turkish passport was canceled and he was held at a Romanian airport upon landing in Bucharest.

Kanter is a follower of a USA -based Turkish cleric accused by Turkey's government of masterminding a failed military coup in 2016.

An arrest warrant was issued for Kanter's father, Mehmet, in June 2018 after the university professor was accused of contacting members of a banned organisation. "But that's exactly why I speak out. I need to speak out, or my country will suffer in silence".

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