Why did former NBA player Anais Kanter Freedom meet US senators

Former Utah Jazz player Ennis Kanter – now Ennis Kanter Freedom – has made the rounds on Capitol Hill in the past two days, including a meeting with two Utah senators, to talk about China’s human rights record and its impact on the NBA.

Freedom, an outspoken critic of the Chinese and Turkish governments, attended a closed-door lunch Wednesday with Republican senators hosted by Utah Senator Mike Lee.

The Hill reported that according to senators in the chamber, the 10-year-old NBA veteran spoke about China’s growing influence on the NBA and how players and other staff who speak out against China’s human rights record are facing blacklisting.

Lee, the chairman of the Senate’s Republican Steering Committee, said he wanted an explanation from the NBA about why Freedom was traded by the Boston Celtics and then unceremoniously waived by the Houston Rockets.

“I’d like to get an explanation from the NBA, I would really. I think a lot of people would very much like to get an explanation from them,” Lee told The Hill.

The Jazz drafted Freedom with the third overall pick in the 2011 draft. Spent 312 Seasons in Utah before being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was last with Boston until he traded with Houston, which released him on Monday.

Born in Switzerland and raised in his parents’ hometown of Turkey, he legally changed his name to Ines Kanter’s Freedom to celebrate being a US citizen last November.

He took a noble stand against the genocide in China. Proud to be an American and take a stand for freedom! He tweeted to me.

Liberty has been a strong voice against dictatorships around the world and has called for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Games currently underway in Beijing. He criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping over alleged human rights abuses, particularly against Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region. He described China’s policy in Tibet as “cultural genocide.”

Liberty is also a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He accused Erdogan’s administration of harassing his family and issuing an international arrest warrant for his support for the Turkish dissident Fethullah Gulen.

Senator Mitt Romney, of Utah, met with Freedom Thursday to talk about human rights abuses by the Chinese Communist Party.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s atrocities against minorities – especially the Uyghurs – include genocide and crimes against humanity,” Romney wrote on Twitter.

Romney called for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics last March. President Joe Biden announced in December that the United States would not send an official delegation to China to attend the Games, citing ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.

After Freedom called Xi in a video a “brutal dictator,” the Chinese government broadcast and highlighted the Celtics’ game last year.

He told PBS’s “Firing Line” last week that his basketball career would likely be interrupted by his criticism of China’s policies.

“When I have a conversation with someone from the NBA or one of my ex-teammates, they say, ‘Listen, this is your farewell tour. Enjoy it, enjoy it, and I hope you win the championship because I don’t think you will sign another contract after this year,”

A member of the Norwegian Parliament nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Last Thursday, 30 Nobel laureates issued a letter calling on the Celtics to stand with Liberty “on the right side of history” and not “abandon him as a player,” according to The Atlantic.

According to The Hill, GOP senators at Wednesday’s lunch meeting were captivated by his story. They praised the defense of human rights and criticism of the Chinese government as “extremely inspiring” and “amazing”.

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