Enes Kanter was released by the New York Knicks hours after the trade deadline and signed with the Trail Blazers a few days later.
One of the first things he did was meet with agents from the city’s FBI agency, per an ESPN feature released Monday on his 27th birthday.
The outspoken Kanter is a “wanted man” in Turkey and faces death threats for his criticism of the Turkish government and president Reccip Tayyip Erdogan.
He says the agents listened and wrote down Kanter’s words and asked a few more questions. Not once did they ask if he was taking the threats seriously, and before they left, they installed a device next to his bed. “If you’re uncomfortable with anything, just push that button,” they told him. “If you hear something you don’t like or have a reason to believe there’s a threat, push the button and someone will be here within minutes.”
Kanter gave the FBI the details of his experience with Turkey and Erdogan, reported in the media over the years, and said the death threats accelerated earlier this year when he stayed behind as the Knicks traveled to London for a game.
Kanter told the FBI, per ESPN, he had no intention of quieting his defiance against the Turkish leader even as it puts his family in danger.
“I will never stop talking,” he says. He laughs again, at the absurdity of that statement, and the need to employ it. “I understand my mother and father and sister are in Turkey, but if I stop talking, who is going to speak for the thousands and thousands of innocent people in jail? People are getting tortured and killed, so I have to talk about these issues. I’m not a journalist or a politician, so this is my platform.”
Kanter has a green card and can remain in the U.S. indefinitely, per Sports Illustrated. He is eligible to become a U.S. citizen in 2021.