Enes Kanter Freedom, an activist and former NBA basketball player, on Thursday accepted the 2022 Humanitarian Award at the Mayors Summit Against Antisemitism (MSAA) held in Athens.
“I’m honored & humbled to receive the 2022 Humanitarian Award in Greece for promoting vocal advocacy, human rights, liberty, & Freedom around the globe,” Freedom tweeted on Thursday.
The 2022 MSAA was hosted by Kostas Bakoyannis, mayor of Athens and chair of the summit.
Freedom also thanked Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou for the invitation and Mayor Bakoyannis for giving him the award.
I’m honored & humbled to receive
the 2022 Humanitarian Award in Greece for promoting vocal advocacy, human rights, liberty, & Freedom around the globe.
— Enes FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) December 1, 2022
Freedom, who changed his name in November 2021, has since become a voice for the oppressed in China and worldwide. He has advocated for the rights of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hongkongers and others in interviews and by wearing his “freedom shoes.”
In February 2022 he was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Houston Rockets, who promptly dropped him. Many suspect the NBA is punishing him for speaking out against China and is trying to silence him.
Freedom, who has lived mainly in the United States for more than a decade, has used his substantial platform as an international star athlete to condemn Turkey’s pivot towards authoritarianism under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the past few years.
Turkish prosecutors are already seeking a four-year prison sentence for his alleged membership in the faith based Gülen movement.
President Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity
Turkey had canceled Freedom’s passport in 2017 and attempted to have him deported from Romania on May 20, 2017, during one of his international trips. His passport was briefly seized by the Romanian police upon a request from the Turkish government. The NBA said it had worked with the State Department to ensure his release in Romania.