Senators Lankford, Shaheen, Tillis Meet with Pastor Brunson’s Daughter

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) today met with Jacqueline Furnari, the daughter of Dr. Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who has been unjustly imprisoned by the Turkish government since October 2016. In April 2018, Brunson’s trial began and last week Turkish judges once again delayed his trial to October 2018, sending him back to languish in prison.

“I’m grateful to Jacqueline and her husband for making the trip to DC to provide an update on her father, and I continue to work and pray for the Brunson family as they walk through this incredibly difficult time,” said Lankford. “We heard first-hand how her father’s unjust detention by the Turkish government has affected Dr. Brunson and their whole family. We also had the opportunity to share the extensive efforts to push Turkey to release him. It is clear the US and Congress must use all available tools to secure Dr. Brunson’s release and remain vigilant in calling for his immediate release.”

“I so appreciated meeting Jacqueline today, and assured her that we’re not going to let up until her father is released and allowed to return home,” said Shaheen. “Pastor Brunson has been held without justification by the Turkish government for over a year which has been a nightmare for him and his family. I will continue to work across the aisle to hold the Turkish government accountable for unjustly holding Americans hostage.”

Senator Shaheen visited Turkey earlier this month and met with Pastor Brunson as well as President Erdogan, whom the Senator pressed for Pastor Brunson’s release.

“I want to thank Jacqueline for taking the time to travel to Washington today,” said Senator Tillis. “The Brunson family has shown incredible strength and courage during this difficult time, serving as unrelenting advocates for Andrew, their loving husband and father who is being wrongfully imprisoned by the Turkish government. I will continue to work with Senators Lankford, Shaheen, and all my colleagues in Congress until Pastor Brunson is back on American soil and reunited with his family.”

Lankford, Shaheen, and Tillis have continued to fight for Brunson’s release. Last week, they introduced a bill to demand Turkey end the unjust detention of US citizens and would reject international loans to Turkey until the harassment and detention of US citizen ends.

Lankford, Shaheen, and Tillis introduced a bill in April 2018 that was added as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would stop the transfer of F-35. The NDAA Conference Report released on Monday, July 23 included language to stop the transfer of F-35 aircraft to Turkey in the final text of the bill, if Turkey continues to detain Americans like Pastor Brunson.

In May, Lankford spoke on the Senate floor to urge Turkey to take a cue from North Korea and release American hostages, including Brunson.