Boston Celtics center and 2021 Washington Free Beacon Man of the Year Enes Kanter Freedom will star in an ad set to air during primetime broadcasts of the Beijing Olympics.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) this week launched the $1.5 million campaign, which features Freedom speaking on the virtues of free speech while wearing a "Free Tibet, Free Taiwan, Free Hong Kong, Free Uyghurs" T-shirt. In the minute-long spot, the Turkish immigrant notes that "without freedom, we cannot do anything."
"People should feel lucky and blessed to be in a country like America where there's human rights," Freedom, who had his Turkish citizenship revoked after criticizing the Turkish regime, says in the ad. "And obviously America is having her own problems—but change can only happen in America with freedom of speech."
The 2022 Beijing Olympics have brought renewed scrutiny to China's human rights issues. The United States did not send diplomatic representatives to the games in protests of China's genocide of Uyghur Muslims. U.S. leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) cautioned athletes against criticizing the CCP after China threatened to punish Olympic athletes who speak out against the regime while in Beijing.
NBC refused to air an ad created by Republican congressman Mike Waltz that also featured Freedom and was critical of sponsors for sticking with the games despite the human rights abuses.
A Muslim himself, Freedom is an outspoken critic of authoritarian regimes. He became a U.S. citizen last year after the Turkish government targeted his family for his criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The regime jailed Freedom's father and forced his family to publicly disown him. His family could be arrested if they attempt to contact their son.
Freedom has criticized the International Olympic Committee for overlooking China's "abuses."
"The IOC has ignored Beijing's abuses for years," he wrote in a November Wall Street Journal op-ed calling to move the games out of China. "All the gold medals in the world aren't worth selling your values and your principles to the Chinese Communist Party."
FIRE's ad will air on network and cable news channels during Olympic broadcasts and primetime programs, including Tucker Carlson Tonight. In a press release announcing the campaign, FIRE vice president of communications Nico Perrino called Freedom's message "powerful."
"Authoritarians across the globe use censorship to stay in power and conceal their abuses," Perrino said. "We need a culture supportive of free speech to stop them."