(Washington, DC) – Last night, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and James Lankford (R-OK) released the following joint statement on their decision to pursue targeted sanctions against Turkish officials in this year’s Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs spending bill in response to the unjust imprisonment of Dr. Andrew Brunson:
“Turkish President Erdogan has continued to violate the trust between our two nations by holding Pastor Brunson and other innocent Americans behind bars on fabricated charges. Accordingly, we will request sanctions be applied to Turkish officials as part of the Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs spending bill. 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.
“We desire cooperation and strengthening ties between our countries, but the US Government has a responsibility to ensure the safety and welfare of its people. Turkey has an opportunity to repair relations by immediately releasing Dr. Andrew Brunson, deporting him back to the US and ceasing its unprecedented policy of hostage-taking immediately. Ultimately, these results would benefit both our great nations.”
Shaheen and Lankford both serve on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. Senator Shaheen is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and is the only woman serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Earlier today, Senator Shaheen led a bipartisan letter with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and a group of 66 Senators, calling on the President of Turkey to release Dr. Brunson.