Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter, an outspoken critic of human rights issues, will become a US citizen Monday and legally change his name to Enes Kanter Freedom, the NBA player told CNN’s John Berman.
Moving forward, “Freedom” will be Kanter’s last name, and Kanter will be his middle name. Kanter told CNN his new last name comes from what his teammates have been calling him.
The news was first reported by NBA Insider Shams Charania of The Athletic and The Stadium. Earlier this week, Kanter, who was raised in Turkey, told Fox News he passed his citizenship test and would be sworn in as an American citizen at the end of the month.
In recent months, the 11-year NBA veteran has used social media and specially designed clothing during NBA games to bring awareness to and criticize China’s treatment of the Uyghur community . The US State Department estimates as many as 2 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been detained in internment camps in China’s Xinjiang province since 2017.
China has repeatedly denied accusations of human rights abuses in the country. Kanter has also sought to bring awareness to China’s treatment of Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong. And has more recently called for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest.
Kanter’s comments have prompted backlash in China. With Celtics games being pulled by Chinese video streaming site Tencent and the government criticizing Kanter’s comments.