The 29-year-old NBA player is to make his name change official after completing his citizenship oath ceremony, Kanter’s manager Hank Fetic told The Associated Press. Going forward, Kanter will be his middle name, and Freedom will be his new last name.
The news was first reported by sports news website The Athletic.
Kanter is a native of Turkey but has been banned from traveling to his home country by the administration of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan due to his political views. Turkey revoked his passport in 2017.
In recent months, Kanter has been vocal about human rights issues in China and criticized the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) treatment of the Uyghur people.
Rights groups, researchers, former residents, and some Western lawmakers say that Xinjiang authorities have facilitated forced labor by arbitrarily detaining around one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in a network of camps in the northwestern region.
Kanter also called China’s leader Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator”, leading to Celtics games being pulled from Chinese media.
Detail of the shoes worn by Enes Kanter #13 of the Boston Celtics with the wording “Free Tibet” during the first half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York City, N.Y., on Oct. 20, 2021. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
He has also spoken up for the Tibetan people.
“I’m here to add my voice and speak about what is happening in Tibet under the Chinese government’s brutal rule. Tibetan people’s basic rights are nonexistent,” Kanter said in a nearly three-minute video clip posted to his personal social media accounts on Nov. 20.
Chinese communists forcibly took control of Tibet in 1951 and over the years, the regime has intensified its control over the local population, forcing monks and nuns to resume secular life and promoting Mandarin Chinese over the Tibetan language.
Kanter has also worn shoes emblazoned with the words “Free Tibet” to an NBA game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 20, which has led Chinese video-streaming platform Tencent to cut its broadcast.
On Nov. 16 he slammed Beijing for its industrial-scale killing of prisoners of conscience for their organs, doubling down on his social media crusade against the regime over its wide-ranging human rights abuses.
“Stop murdering for organs. It’s a crime against humanity,” the Turkish player wrote in a post that appeared on his Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The Chinese Government engages in forced organ harvesting.— Enes Kanter FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) November 16, 2021
Ethnic & religious groups,
Tibetans,Uyghurs in death camps, Christians,Falun Gong are all targeted
Stop murdering for organs.
It’s a crime against humanity
End forced organ harvesting in China,
On Nov. 19, he called out NBA superstar LeBron James in a tweet over his ties with Nike, slamming James for taking a “Money over Morals” approach on Nike’s alleged use of slave labor in China to produce its goods.
“Sad & disgusting how these athletes pretend they care about social justice. They really do ‘shut up & dribble’ when Big Boss [China] says so,” Kanter said on Twitter.
James responded to his tweet by saying that he will not waste his energy on Kanter, accusing him of trying to use his name for himself.
Separately on Nov. 23, Kanter called for a boycott of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in protest of human rights abuses in the country.
“The genocidal Chinese government and the insecure tyrant behind it all Xi Jinping must not be allowed to host the upcoming Winter Olympics. Say NO to @Beijing2022!” Kanter tweeted, along with a series of pictures of some shoes emblazoned with messages targeting China.
He has also voiced his support for Taiwan, prompting Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to thank him directly.