New York Knicks centre Enes Kanter says he won't travel to London for the upcoming international NBA game because he believes he could be assassinated for his opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
- Enes Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Mr Erdogan since 2016
- Kanter says it is not safe for him to travel outside the United States or Canada
- He said it would be "easy" for an attempt to be made on his life in London
The Turkish national announced his plan on Friday night after the Knicks' 119-112 win over the Lakers.
"Sadly, I'm not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish President," Kanter said in a video posted to Twitter.
"It's pretty sad that all the stuff affects my career and basketball, because I want to be out there and help my team win.
"But just because of the one lunatic guy, one maniac, one dictator, I can't even go out there and do my job. It's pretty sad."
He said he could not travel anywhere except the US and Canada because "there's a chance I could get killed out there."
The 26-year-old will stay in New York while the Knicks travel to face the Washington Wizards in London on January 17.
Kanter has been a vocal critic of Mr Erdogan for years, once referring to him as "the Hitler of our century."
His Turkish passport was revoked in 2017, and an international warrant for his arrest was issued, with Turkish prosecutors asking for Kanter to be jailed for up to four years.
Kanter said it would be "easy" for an attempt on his life to be made in London.
"They've got a lot of spies there," he said.
"I think I can get killed there easy. It would be a very ugly situation."
Kanter's father, Mehmet, was indicted last year and charged with "membership in a terror group." The former professor lost his job after the failed military coup, even though he publicly disavowed his son and his beliefs.
"People often ask me why I continue to speak out if it's hurting my family," Kanter wrote in a column for Time magazine last year.
"But that's exactly why I speak out. The people Erdogan is targeting are my family, my friends, my neighbours, my classmates. I need to speak out, or my country will suffer in silence."
The Knicks confirmed Kanter would stay at home, saying he would not be making the trip because of a visa issue.