NBA star Enes Kanter appears on Capitol Hill in support of Turkish human rights legislation

SHOWS: WASHINGTON, D.C. UNITED STATES. (NOVEMBER 12, 2019)(REUTERS-ACCESS ALL)

1. WIDE SHOT OF NEWS CONFERENCE

4. (SOUNDBITE)(English) BOSTON CELTICS CENTER ENES KANTER SAYING

"It's definitely tough because I get this question a lot even from my team-mates and from some of the fans. They just tell me, excuse my language 'Shut your mouth. Make your money and just live a happy life. Why are you talking about these issues?' Because you know whenever you talk about these issues you're never going to get big contracts and big endorsement deals and of course, that affects me and my family. Obviously my dad was a genetic professor and now he got fired from his job. My sister had six years of medical school and she can't find a job but it's bigger than that. You know it's bigger than my self. It's bigger than the NBA, It's bigger than basketball because what's happening in Turkey is a human tragedy."

STORY: Enes Kanter, a Turkish NBA player and vocal critic of President Tayyip Erdogan, on Tuesday (November 12) teamed up with two Democratic U.S. senators as they introduced a bill to condemn the violation of human rights in Turkey.

As Erdogan arrived in the United States for a White House meeting on Wednesday with President Donald Trump, Senators Edward Markey and Ron Wyden held up Kanter as a victim of the Turkish government's targeting of political rivals.

Turkey seeks the international arrest and extradition of the Boston Celtics center over his links to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016. Kanter has also had his passport cancelled and has not been able to travel abroad with his team.

"President Erdogan is conducting one of the biggest campaigns to restrict rights and freedoms anywhere in the world," said Markey, pointing to the arrests or imprisonment of

80,000 citizens and closure of non-governmental and media organizations. Kanter said Americans should feel "very lucky and blessed" to have a country with democracy, freedom and human rights.

(Production: Peter Bullock)

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