Kanter made the revelation in a column published by Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper. He thanked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and other Canadian and American officials for giving him the green light to play north of the border.
Kanter is an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as a supporter of Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Muslim cleric and Erdogan rival. Gulen has been accused of masterminding the failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, and Ankara has repeatedly demanded the U.S. extradite him from his compound in Pennsylvania so he can face charges.
In March, Kanter admitted he receives death threats on a weekly basis and won’t go anywhere alone aside from the bathroom for fear of retaliation from Turkish agents.
In his column, Kanter warned that there’s not much anyone could do to stop Turkey’s influence.
“But as they increase the pressure, I am encouraged. As they tighten the noose, I feel liberated,” he wrote in the op-ed. “I will use every opportunity to stand up for oppressed people everywhere, be their voice and champion.”
Kanter wrapped up his column by echoing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“As Martin Luther King Jr. timelessly observed, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Standing up for something we believe makes us better humans. And I couldn’t be happier that these people have worked together to stand up to Turkey’s injustice, and that I will finally get to join my team and do what I do best: play basketball.”
Kanter has played in 20 games for the Celtics this season. He is averaging 7.8 points and 7.3 rebounds.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
By Ryan Gaydos