Turkish dissident NBA star to speak on Capitol Hill before Erdoğan visit

Enes Kanter, the Turkish NBA star viewed as a fugitive by his own country for his membership of an outlawed religious movement, is scheduled to appear at Capitol Hill on Tuesday afternoon, a day before the Turkish President’s visit to Washington,

Kanter is a wanted man in Turkey thanks to his support for the Gülen religious movement, which the Turkish government blames for the coup attempt in July 2016.

The Boston Celtics centre has called Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the “Hitler of the century,” and his criticism of Turkey has found a ready audience in Washington, where anti-Turkish sentiment is running high.

Kanter’s star status makes him one of the highest profile Turkish dissidents around the world, and he has been invited to speak before a panel on protecting Syrian Kurdish groups that partnered the United States in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria acted as a green light for Turkey’s military operation on Oct. 9 against the Kurdish-led groups, which it views as a security threat due to their links to outlawed insurgents within Turkey.

The U.S. withdrawal has been widely condemned by bipartisan lawmakers, who have criticised the decision to host Erdoğan on Wednesday and sought sanctions against Turkey for its offensive.