Senators Lankford, Shaheen, and Tillis Issue Joint Statement on Andrew Brunson Being Moved to House Arrest

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) today issued the following joint statement after a Turkish court in Izmir ordered American citizen Andrew Brunson to be moved from prison to house arrest: 

“Today’s decision by the Turkish Court system to move Pastor Andrew Brunson from prison to house arrest is a step in the right direction and will help alleviate some of the unacceptable hardship and anguish Pastor Brunson and his family have endured over the last 20 months. The Government of Turkey should now release Pastor Brunson and immediately return him to the United States, an action that would begin to restore the longstanding friendship between our two nations.”

Dr. Brunson has been wrongfully imprisoned by the Turkish Government since October 7, 2016. In April, Brunson was indicted on bogus charges related to terrorism and espionage, and faces up to 35 years in prison. Senators Lankford, Shaheen, and Tillis have long advocated for Brunson’s release. They met with Brunson’s daughter yesterday.

On Monday, Tillis, and Shaheen announced that the conference report for the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes a provision authored by the Senators that directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to Congress assessing the Government of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program. The provision is in-part based on legislation that Lankford introduced with Tillis and Shaheen earlier this year.

Last week, the Senators also introduced a bill to reject international loans to Turkey until the harassment and detention of US citizens ends. In April, the Senators led a bipartisan letter signed by 71 Senators to President Erdogan calling for his release. Lankford has also called for sanctions on the Turkish officials in this year’s Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs spending bill in response to the wrongful imprisonment of Dr. Brunson. In December of 2017, Lankford visited Turkey to meet with their Ministry of Justice officials to advocate for the release of Dr. Brunson.