The Interview

'China buys silence and they just bought Elon Musk,' NBA star Freedom says

THE INTERVIEW
THE INTERVIEW © FRANCE 24

Enes Kanter Freedom is a Turkish-born basketball player who is now a US citizen and plays for the Boston Celtics. He is also a human rights activist. In an interview with FRANCE 24, Freedom criticised billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk for opening a Tesla showroom in China's Xinjiang region, where the minority Uighurs are persecuted. He also accused Nike – the NBA's main sponsor – of "modern slavery" in China. Ahead of the Beijing Olympics, Freedom called on athletes to make their voices heard, saying the diplomatic boycott was "good but not enough". 

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Enes Kanter Freedom, a Turkish-born player who plays professional basketball for the Boston Celtics, told FRANCE 24 that NBA superstar LeBron James was among many athletes reluctant to denounce human rights violations in China. He said James was inclined to remain silent because both the NBA and the Nike brand that he represents have huge economic interests in China. Freedom urged all athletes to educate themselves and speak up to bring about change.

The NBA star said he "couldn’t believe" that billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk had opened a Tesla showroom in China's Xinjiang region, where the minority Uighurs are the victims of what he calls a "genocide".

"China uses money to buy silence and they just bought Elon," he told FRANCE 24.

He said the diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in China decided by the US, the UK and Australia was "good, but not enough", urging athletes to make their voices heard. He said the gold medals they win were less important than their morals and their values.

Freedom accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of lying by accusing the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the failed 2016 coup against him, saying he himself had actually spent the night of the coup with Gulen and that the cleric prayed for his country. He lamented the deterioration of the human rights situation in Turkey and said Erdogan was leading the country like a "mafia leader". Freedom said he was in favour of regime change, stressing that Erdogan would not accept normal elections.   

The human rights activist officially became an American citizen on November 29, 2021 and legally changed his name to Enes Kanter Freedom. He said he chose the name because so many political prisoners around the world were behind bars.  

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