FEATURED:

Senators pledge to pursue sanctions against Turkey over imprisoned American pastor

Senators pledge to pursue sanctions against Turkey over imprisoned American pastor
© Getty Images

Sens. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordCollusion judgment looms for key Senate panel GOP loads up lame-duck agenda as House control teeters The Hill's Morning Report — Kavanaugh, Ford saga approaches bitter end MORE (R-Okla.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBrunson release spotlights the rot in Turkish politics and judiciary Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Missing journalist strains US-Saudi ties | Senators push Trump to open investigation | Trump speaks with Saudi officials | New questions over support for Saudi coalition in Yemen Senators demand answers on Trump administration backing of Saudi coalition in Yemen 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation 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.