New York Knicks star Enes Kanter says he will not travel to London for his side's upcoming NBA game because he believes he could be assassinated for his views on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Kanter announced his decision after the Knicks' 119-112 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Knicks said in a statement that Kanter won't travel to the UK to face the clash against the Washington Wizards at London's O2 Arena on January 18 (NZ time), but the 26-year-old revealed there is more to the story.
"Sadly, I'm not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president," Kanter said.
"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."
"They got a lot of spies there," Kanter said when asked if he really believed he could die if he travelled to London.
"I can get killed pretty easy."
The Turkish native is a vocal critic of Erdogan. He was detained in Romania in May 2017 after travelling there for charitable work. His Turkish passport had been revoked and Turkey issued an international warrant for his arrest.
Kanter is a follower of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Turkish cleric who was accused by Turkey's government of masterminding a failed military coup in 2016.
Kanter has often called Erdogan "The Hitler of our century". On top of that, Kanter's father, Mehmet Kanter, was indicted last year and charged with "membership in a terror group".
In a piece for Time Magazine last year, Kanter addressed why he still criticises the Turkish government despite it affecting his family.
"That's exactly why I speak out," Kanter wrote. "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."
Kanter is good friends with Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams as the pair played in together for the Oklahoma City Thunder for two seasons.
The centre pairing became known as 'The Stache Brothers' for their trademark facial grooming.