Oregon Democratic U.S. Senator Ron Wyden spoke in support of Enes Kanter, a basketball player for the Portland Trail Blazers, Tuesday on the U.S. Senate floor.
Kanter is originally from Turkey and has spoken openly in opposition against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Turkish government has claimed that Kanter is a member of an “armed terrorist organization.”
Wyden said Turkey has called on INTERPOL to issue a “red notice,” or an international arrest warrant, for Kanter, which has prohibited Kanter from traveling outside of the U.S. for fear of his safety.
When Kanter played for the New York Knicks he was unable to travel to London for a game due to that red notice. Last week he was unable to go to Toronto, Canada, with the Trail Blazers, according to Wyden’s office.
“The United States cannot and must not stand idly by while Enes and his family are subject to this autocratic torment,” Sen. Wyden said.
Wyden called on U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to bring light to Kanter’s situation and clearly state the country’s stand against it.
“I have asked our Secretary of State to state clearly our country will actively resist these contrived red notices or extradition requests,” Wyden said. “The fact is, our State Department should be taking all necessary steps to ensure Mr. Kanter can travel safely with the Trail Blazers or advocate for the freedom of his people.”
Sen. Wyden said that Kanter’s predicament is not just a “sports story,” but should be looked at in a broader context.
“The United States must not stay silent in the face of such a blatant attack on free thought and expression,” he said.