Former NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom, who has become popular in Republican circles since leaving the sport, ripped Twitter CEO Elon Musk on Monday as his social media platform takes heat for restricting content in Turkey amid an ongoing presidential election.
“I don’t want to hear about Elon Musk talking about free speech ever again. He’s literally bowing down to a dictatorship,” Kanter Freedom said on “CNN This Morning.”
“The Turkish government called Elon to pretty much tell him to, ‘If you don’t ban a couple accounts, then we’re going to shut down the whole app in Turkey.’ And he picked business and money over his morals and principles. So I don’t want to hear about him talking about free speech ever again,” he said. “He was wrong for that, for sure.”
Twitter has come under fire for restricting content in Turkey as the country undergoes its presidential election, which is headed to a runoff in two weeks. The race will determine whether incumbent conservative President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or his top rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, takes leadership of the NATO member.
Twitter’s Global Government Affairs (GGA) account tweeted Friday that it had “taken action to restrict access to some content in Turkey” in response to “legal process.” But the move faced backlash from some concerned about the impact of the move on the ongoing election.
“The day before a critical election in Turkey, Twitter appears to be acquiescing to the demands of the country’s autocratic ruler, Erdogan, and is censoring speech on the platform,” tweeted Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
Musk defended the move, tweeting that “the choice is have Twitter throttled in its entirety or limit access to some tweets.”
Kanter Freedom, a Turkish-American and an outspoken critic of Erdogan, said earlier this year that he is considering running for office, and that he’d “started to have conversations” with friends and members of Congress about a possible bid.
Twitter on Monday said it had been in negotiation with Turkey’s government throughout last week over concerns about the company’s compliance with court orders.
“We received what we believed to be a final threat to throttle the service — after several such warnings — and so in order to keep Twitter available over the election weekend, took action on four accounts and 409 Tweets identified by court order. We communicated our concerns about freedom of expression directly,” Twitter’s GGA office said.
“We will continue to object in court, as we have done with all requests, but no further legal action was possible before the start of voting.”