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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 LankfordRubio and bipartisan group of senators push to make daylight saving time permanent Senate inches toward COVID-19 vote after marathon session Ron Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many MORE (R-Okla.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBowser on Manchin's DC statehood stance: He's 'not right' If Taliban regains power, they would roll back rights for women: US intelligence Manchin says he doesn't support DC statehood, election reform bills 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 TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report 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.