Tillis, Burr seek release of NC pastor detained in Turkey

Press release from Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Richard Burr (R-NC), and leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees sent a letter signed by 78 members of Congress to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seeking the unconditional release of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been unjustly detained in Turkey since October and denied regular and appropriate access to legal counsel and American consular services. Pastor Andrew Brunson is a Presbyterian pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina, and has dedicated 23 years to Christian missionary work in Turkey until he applied for residency and was arrested.

Other members of Congress who signed the letter include: Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Boozman (R-AZ), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bob Corker (R-TN), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), James M. Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Joe Manchin III (D-WV), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Rand Paul (R-KY), David Perdue (R-GA), Rob Portman (R-OH), James E. Risch (R-ID), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Thune (R-SD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Roger F. Wicker (R-MS), and Todd Young (R-IN); and Representatives Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL), Brian Babin (R-TX), Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL), Mike Bost (R-IL), Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA), Ted Budd (R-NC), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Gerry E. Connolly (D-VA), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), Garret Graves (R-LA), Bill Flores (R-TX), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Thomas A. Garrett Jr. (R-VA), George Holding (R-NC), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Walter B. Jones (R-NC), David P. Joyce (R-OH), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), Tom Marino (R-PA), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Patrick T. McHenry (R-NC), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Robert Pittenger (R-NC), Ted Poe (R-TX), David E. Price (D-NC), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Peter J. Roskam (R-IL), Steve Russell (R-OK), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), David G. Valadao (R-CA), Tim Walberg (R-MI), Ted Yoho (R-FL), and Lee Zeldin (R-NY).

Text of the letter is included below:

February 16, 2017

Dear President Erdogan,

We write to request that Mr. Andrew Brunson, an American citizen who has been unjustly detained in Turkey, be immediately released and deported.

Mr. Brunson has worked peacefully in Turkey since 1993. There appears to be no evidence to substantiate the charges against him for membership in an armed terrorist organization. Moreover, your government has repeatedly denied regular and appropriate access to legal counsel and American consular services.

Mr. Brunson’s imprisonment has been raised repeatedly by U.S. Government officials with officials of the Government of Turkey. Unfortunately, high-level efforts to secure Mr. Brunson’s release have been unsuccessful. We have closely followed developments with this case, and are deeply disappointed.

The United States and Turkey have benefited from a close partnership for decades, and we hope to be in a position to continue strengthening these ties. Now is the time for our countries to reaffirm respect for fundamental freedoms and the rule of law while reasserting our shared commitment to addressing security challenges through partnerships and cooperation.

In this spirit of partnership, we respectfully ask you to consider Mr. Brunson’s case and how the recent treatment of Mr. Brunson places significant strain not only on him and his family, but also on the robust bilateral relationship between the United States and Turkey.

We appeal to you to inquire as to the options for promptly deporting Mr. Brunson and to act on them expeditiously.

Sincerely,

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