Kanter says he will not be intimidated by Turkish arrest warrants

Mar 28, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter (11) reacts to a call during the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 5 (Reuters) - NBA centre Enes Kanter on Thursday vowed to continue his fight against Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his regime's alleged human rights abuses despite learning that the government had issued nine warrants for his arrest.

Turkish prosecutors have sought to arrest Kanter for defamation and terrorism, according to documents dated July 12 and posted by Nordic Monitor, a group that highlights abuses by the Erdogan government and others.

"Unbelievable!" Kanter wrote on Twitter.

"#DictatorErdogan regime issued 9 arrest warrants for me. The reason behind it is me standing up for Human Rights, Freedom and Political Prisoners who are getting tortured.

"Hey @RTErdogan I don't care if it's 9 or 9000, I'm NOT giving up."

The 29-year-old Kanter, who will play for the Boston Celtics next season, is an outspoken critic of Erdogan's human rights record, which includes the arrest and imprisonment of 80,000 citizens who have been critical of the government, according to U.S. government officials.

In recent years Turkey has sought the international arrest and extradition of Kanter over his links to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016. Gulen denies any connection with the matter.

Kanter, who has lived mainly in the United States for more than a decade, describes himself as a close ally of Gulen.

Last year, Kanter's father, Mehmet Kanter, was acquitted of charges that he was a member of a terrorist group seven years after his arrest in Turkey.

Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles Editing by Christian Radnedge

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.