Senators pledge to pursue sanctions against Turkey over imprisoned American pastor

Senators pledge to pursue sanctions against Turkey over imprisoned American pastor
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Sens. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA McConnell not yet ready to change rules for Trump nominees Rescissions package could tie lawmakers' hands on funding bills MORE (R-Okla.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenJudd Gregg: 'Medicare for all' means rationing for everyone The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by CVS Health - A pivotal day for House Republicans on immigration Overnight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade MORE (D-N.H.) on Thursday called for sanctions against Turkey in response to its detainment of an American pastor.

The two senators condemned the Turkish government for holding pastor Andrew Brunson for the past 18 months, and threatened to implement economic sanctions as part of a fiscal 2019 spending bill if he is not released.

“Turkish officials who participate in the detainment of any innocent American citizen should face international consequences, and the actions against Pastor Brunson, in particular, qualify as hostage-taking,” Lankford and Shaheen said in a statement. 

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Both Lankford and Shaheen serve on the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. 

“We desire cooperation and strengthening ties between our countries, but the U.S. Government has a responsibility to ensure the safety and welfare of its people,” they said.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWH aides intentionally compose Trump tweets with grammatical mistakes: report Holder: DOJ, FBI should reject Trump's requests Ex-Trump campaign adviser rips claims of spy in campaign: It's 'embarrassing' MORE, Vice President Pence and other U.S. officials have lobbied Turkish officials in recent weeks to release Brunson, arguing he has been wrongfully imprisoned.

He was detained 18 months ago, accused of aiding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in a failed coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and of having a connection to Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric who Turkey claims orchestrated the coup attempt. 

Brunson, who has been working in Turkey for 23 years as the pastor of the Resurrection Church, has denied the allegations.