Turkish NBA star tweets 'you can't catch me' at arrest warrant report

ANKARA/NEW YORK, May 26 (Reuters) - Enes Kanter, the Turkish NBA star whose home country has revoked his passport, on Friday expressed disdain on social media at reports that Turkey's government had issued a warrant for his arrest.

"You can't catch me. Don't waste your breath. I will come on my own will anyway, to spit on your ugly, hateful faces," Kanter said in a Twitter post accompanied by a photo of a story by Turkish newspaper Sabah about the arrest warrant.

Kanter's agent, the National Basketball Association player's union and representatives for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kanter's team, did not respond to requests for comment.

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Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter speaks about the revocation of his Turkish passport and return to the United States at National Basketball Players Association headquarters in New York, U.S., May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter speaks about the revocation of his Turkish passport and return to the United States at National Basketball Players Association headquarters in New York, U.S., May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter speaks about the revocation of his Turkish passport and return to the United States at National Basketball Players Association headquarters in New York, U.S., May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter speaks about the revocation of his Turkish passport and return to the United States at National Basketball Players Association headquarters in New York, U.S., May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Apr 11, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter (11) shoots the ball over Minnesota Timberwolves forward Omri Casspi (18) in the second half at Target Center. The Thunder won 100-98. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter (11) drives to the basket in front of Utah Jazz center Jeff Withey (24) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 4, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) fouls Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter (11) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Enes Kanter of Turkey speaks to reporters at a media availability session ahead of the 2011 NBA Draft in New York, June 22, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
May 24, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter (11) and Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston (34) battle for the ball during the second half in game four of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 22: Turkish NBA Player Enes Kanter speaks to media during a news conference about his detention at a Romanian airport on May 22, 2017 in New York City. Kanter returned to the U.S. after being detained for several hours at a Romanian airport following statements he made criticizing Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 23: Enes Kanter #11 of the Oklahoma City Thunder dunks the ball against the Houston Rockets during Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on April 23, 2017 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 9: Enes Kanter #11 of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes to the basket against the Denver Nuggets on April 9, 2017 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 26: Enes Kanter #11 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives to the basket against the Houston Rockets on March 26, 2017 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MARCH 11: Enes Kanter #11 of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes up for a lay up during a game against the Utah Jazz on March 11, 2017 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Kanter, a vocal critic of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, was detained in Romania on May 20 when authorities learned his Turkish passport had been revoked. He returned to the United States on Sunday.

On Monday in New York, Kanter lashed out at Erdogan at a news conference, calling him the "Hitler of our century."

The 6-foot-11-inch center was traveling on a charity and promotional tour. He holds a U.S. green card that allows him to live and work in the country on a permanent basis.

Criticism of Erdogan has intensified since an April referendum made constitutional changes that gave the Turkish leader new powers in a move some called an authoritative power grab. On May 17, a street brawl erupted in Washington, D.C., between protesters and Turkish security personnel during Erdogan's visit to the U.S. capital.

Turkey blamed the violence on demonstrators, while the Washington police called it a "brutal attack" on peaceful protesters.

Turkey and the United States are close allies, cooperating in the fight against the group Islamic State.

The Sabah newspaper said on Friday that Kanter was named a "fugitive" by a Turkish court for his support of U.S-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. Erdogan is seeking Gulen's extradition for his alleged role in a failed coup last July, something Gulen has denied.

A representative of the prosecutor's office in Istanbul declined to comment and Turkey's Ministry of Justice was not available to comment. Officials with the Turkish embassy in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment.

The investigation of Kanter was reportedly coordinated and carried out by Istanbul prosecutors. The court's ruling had determined Kanter was allegedly a user of ByLock, a secure communication application for smartphones that was used by an organization in support of Gulen and supposedly during a failed coup against Erdogan last July, Sabah reported.

The court said Kanter was sharing messages praising the organization on social media and said he was called to testify multiple times but refused, making him a fugitive, according to the Turkish newspaper.

The prosecutor's office requested that the Justice Ministry contact officials to issue a red notice for Kanter, which would prevent him from traveling, Sabah reported. (Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing and additional reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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