May 20, 2017 / 6:29 PM / 2 years ago

Turkish NBA star denied entry to Romania after passport canceled: police

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - U.S.-based Turkish basketball star Enes Kanter was refused entry into Romania on Saturday because his Turkish passport had been canceled, Romanian border police said.

Mar 11, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter (11) drives to the basket in front of Utah Jazz center Jeff Withey (24) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Kanter, who plays in the NBA for Oklahoma City Thunder, is a long-time supporter of Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, whose extradition Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan is seeking in relation to a failed coup last July.

Kanter said on his Twitter account that he would hold a news conference in New York on Sunday to discuss his situation.

“Got lots of things to say with lots of crazy stories, Be ready!!!” he said.

Kanter had tweeted earlier that Romanian police had detained him at Bucharest airport.

“I’m being held at Romanian airport by police,” Kanter wrote, along with a photo of him with his arms around two police officers and a video describing what he said was his situation.

“We are in Romania and they said they canceled my passport by Turkish embassy,” he said in the video, speaking in English. “You know because the reason behind it is just of course my political views.”

Neither the National Basketball Association nor the Oklahoma City Thunder were immediately available for comment on Kanter.

Kanter’s agent, Melvut Cilnar, told Oklahoma media that the player was safe.

He said he and Kanter expected to return to the U.S. from London “very soon” but did not elaborate.

Romanian border police said in a statement that Kanter had come from the United States and made a stop in Frankfurt.

“At the border checkpoint it was discovered that his passport is not valid, his travel document being annulled by the issuing state,” the statement said, adding he then flew on to London.

Turkish officials were not immediately available to comment.

Kanter said last year he had severed ties with his family and pledged allegiance to Gulen after Turkish media published a letter signed by Kanter’s father, disowning his son.

During the coup attempt, rogue soldiers in warplanes and tanks tried to seize power in Turkey in a putsch that killed more than 240 people. Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile since 1999, has denied involvement.

Reporting by Radu Marinas; Writing by Daren Butler in Istanbul; Editing by Dominic Evans and Ian Chadband

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