NBA player Enes Kanter is changing his name to “Enes Kanter Freedom” to celebrate becoming a United States citizen.
The Boston Celtics‘ center will attend his citizenship oath ceremony on Monday afternoon, according to his manager Hank Fetic.
Kanter is a native of Turkey but had his passport revoked by Ankara in 2017. The 29-year-old is an outspoken critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an and the Turkish government.
In recent weeks, Kanter has used social media to voice support for Tibetan independence and Uyghur Muslims in China.
This season, he has worn shoes decorated to say “Free Tibet” and has called for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
China has denied NGO allegations that it has held one million Ughuyr Muslims in forced labor camps.
Kanter’s father Mehmet was accused of belonging to the Gülen movement, which is considered by Ankara as a terrorist.
Despite the acquittal, Enes Kanter says he has avoided contact with family members in Turkey for years. The basketball player has also skipped NBA games in London for fear of reprisals from Turkey.
“It’s very sad because I want to play basketball and I want to be known as a basketball player,” Kanter told Euronews in 2019.
After formally changing his name on Monday, the 29-year-old said the citizenship oath was “maybe the most unforgettable moment that I had in my life”.
“I have been waiting on this moment since the day I stepped into America,” he said.