Former NBA player and current Turkish government official Hedo Turkoglu accused New York Knicks center Enes Kanter of committing a "political smear campaign" against Turkey on Monday.  

Kanter, a native of Turkey and outspoken critic of current president Recep Erdogan, recently revealed that he wouldn't travel to a London game with the Knicks for fear that Turkish spies would kill him. In a statement released on January 7, Turkoglu accused Kanter of seeking "the limelight with irrational justifications and political remarks."
"We know that [Kanter] has not been able to travel to many countries due to visa issues since 2017," Turkoglu said. "In other words, Kanter can't enter the UK not because of fears for life as he claims but due to passport and visa issues. "

"Such remarks constitute another example of the political smear campaign Kanter has been conducting against Turkey as well as his efforts to attribute importance to himself by covering up the contradictions in his sports career,"  he added. "It is obvious that this person's remarks are irrational and distort the truth."

Kanter countered Turkoglu by sharing his travel documents on Twitter and called the former player a "lap dog." 

Erdogan's time as president has been marked with the jailing of dissidents and critics. The New York Times has alleged that the president jailed thousands of people suspected of taking part in a failed coup in 2016. With this in the air, Kanter told reporters that he would fear for his life if he were to leave the United States. 

"It's pretty sad that just all this stuff affects my career and basketball, because I want to be out there helping my team win. But just because of that one lunatic guy, one maniac or dictator, I can't even go out there and just do my job. So it's pretty sad," he said. "They've got a lot of spies there...I can get killed very easy."