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 LankfordHillicon Valley: Trump escalates feud with intel critics | Tesla shares fall after troubling Musk interview | House panel considers subpoena for Twitter's Jack Dorsey | Why Turkish citizens are breaking their iPhones Hillicon Valley: FBI fires Strzok after anti-Trump tweets | Trump signs defense bill with cyber war policy | Google under scrutiny over location data | Sinclair's troubles may just be beginning | Tech to ease health data access | Netflix CFO to step down House Intel lawmakers introduce bipartisan election security bill MORE (R-Okla.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBusinesses fear blowback from Russia sanctions bill Hillicon Valley: Trump officials deliver show of force on election security | Apple hits trillion | How fake Facebook groups manipulated real activists | Senate group seeks new Russia sanctions Senators introduce bill to slap 'crushing' new sanctions on Russia 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 TrumpWhite House counsel called Trump 'King Kong' behind his back: report Trump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Trump claims he instructed White House counsel to cooperate with Mueller 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.