Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said NBA player Enes Kanter’s world tour was blocked as part of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) efforts against the activities of the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government blames for a failed coup last year, the pro-government Sabah daily reported on Wednesday.
Speaking during an AKP meeting in Afyonkarahisar province over the weekend, Çavuşoğlu said: “Some institutions affiliated with the movement used to have recognition within the UN’s Economic and Social Council. Among those institutions were Kimse Yok Mu, the Journalists and Writers Foundation and TUSKON [Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists]. Their status was withdrawn as a result of our efforts. We prevented Enes Kanter from completing his world tour, which he started for propaganda purposes. He was expelled from three countries.”
In May Kanter’s passport was briefly seized by Romanian police upon a request from the Turkish government. Once he landed in the US, Kanter revealed that the Turkish government had also tried to catch him in Indonesia.
“I was sleeping around 2:30 am and my manager knocked on my door. He said the Secret Service and the Indonesian army were looking for me because the Turkish government told them I was a dangerous man,” Kanter said.
The Turkish government holds the Gülen movement, inspired by the views of US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, responsible for a July 15, 2016 coup attempt, while the movement denies any involvement. More than 126,000 people have been detained over ties to the movement in Turkey thus far, while President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier called on foreign governments to ban activities of Gülen followers in their own countries.
Çavuşoğlu boasted that the government took part in bringing back Gülen’s supporters from overseas.
“We brought back FETO’s Myanmar imam. We brought back FETO supporters from Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Schools and language centers linked to FETO stopped operating in 15 countries: Gambia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Libya, Jordan, Dominican Republic, Morocco, Rwanda, Kuwait, Tunisia, Montenegro, Maldives, Madagascar and Ivory Coast. [The state-supported] Maarif Foundation took over such schools in Guinea, Somalia, Niger, Sudan and Congo. We are making every effort to take over their schools in other countries as well,” he added.
Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Georgia and Myanmar handed over academics, businessmen and school principals upon the Turkish government’s request earlier in May.
Most recently, a former Pak-Turk school director in Pakistan, Mesut Kaçmaz, his wife and two daughters were abducted in Lahore on Sept. 27. No news has been received about them since then.
According to a witness, the Kaçmaz family was abducted by 15 plainclothes “police officers” at midnight from their house in Lahore.
Pakistanı media, deputies, civil society representatives and students of the Turkish school have been protesting the silence of the Pakistani government over the abduction.
Ahead of a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Pakistan on Nov. 15 of last year, the Pakistani government had ordered teachers who worked at 23 schools affiliated with the Gülen movement in the country to leave Pakistan by Nov. 20.