Brownback & Lantos Swett ‘appalled’ by Turkish government bounty, say Enes Kanter Freedom ‘too brave’ to be silenced

Jan. 18, 2023

WASHINGTONInternational Religious Freedom Summit co-chairs Sam Brownback and Katrina Lantos Swett issued the following statement condemning the $500,000 bounty put on Enes Kanter Freedom by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government:

“We are appalled that the Turkish government has labeled Enes Kanter Freedom a ‘most wanted’ terrorist and put a bounty on his head. It is flatly unacceptable that any government would openly target and endanger Enes — a courageous human rights activist and American citizen — in this manner.

“Enes’ advocacy for the persecuted and oppressed has made him an integral part of the broader human rights community and, after delivering a powerful keynote address last year and forging deep relationships in our movement, he has a special place in the IRF Summit family. We cannot sit by while he is on the receiving end of Turkey’s blatant transnational repression.

“We know Enes is too brave to let this threat silence him. He has demonstrated his courage time and again by calling out oppressors and tyrants — like Turkey’s Erdogan — for their misdeeds. We call on the United States government to take this situation seriously and do everything in its power to protect him.

“Having experienced life under Erdogan’s repressive regime first-hand, Enes fully recognizes the precious nature of the freedom afforded by America. We must ensure that America also offers him safety and protection against those who would wish to do him harm.”

Today it was announced that Kanter Freedom will participate in a celebrity panel at this year’s IRF Summit. The panel also includes TV and film actor Penn Badgley and comedian, rap artist and daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, Maryum Ali. Together, the panelists will speak about why they advocate for freedom of religion and belief globally.

The International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit — the world’s premier annual gathering of religious freedom advocates and activists — will be held January 31 and February 1 at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C.The Summit is supported by more than 70 diverse partners. It aims to bring greater attention to religious freedom violations and to create a powerful coalition of groups to advance the cause of religious freedom around the world.

Press on assignment to cover IRF Summit 2023 must request event credentials at

International Religious Freedom Summit is a powerful, broad coalition of religious, human rights and civil society groups that advocate for religious freedom for all people, everywhere at all times.

Samuel Brownback served as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom (2018-21) and is co-chair of IRF Summit.

Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett is president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, former Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and is co-chair of IRF Summit.