CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today made the following statement on American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was released from Turkey after two years of detention. Turkey imprisoned Brunson in 2016 and indicted him on unsubstantiated terrorism charges earlier this year.
“This has been a long and painful ordeal for Pastor Brunson and his family, and we are relieved that they will finally be reunited after this long period of his unjust imprisonment,” said Corker. “From the start, we repeatedly raised his case at the highest levels of the Turkish government and refused to give up on his eventual release. I thank the administration and my colleagues in Congress who were part of this bipartisan effort to get him home. Pastor Brunson’s release represents an important step towards mending U.S.-Turkish relations. Going forward, we should use this as an opportunity to address our real differences with Turkey and must continue to advocate for other U.S. citizens, embassy staff and the Turkish people, who are being subjected to abuses by Turkish authorities.”
Earlier this year, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved bipartisan legislation introduced by Corker and Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) that would restrict loans from international financial institutions to Turkey until the Turkish government ends the unjust detention of U.S. citizens. Corker has repeatedly raised Mr. Brunson’s case with senior Turkish leaders and top officials in both the Obama and Trump administrations. In December of 2016, he delivered a private letter with 17 other senators to the Turkish ambassador to the United States on Brunson’s behalf. He led a bipartisan group of 78 members of Congress in a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanding Brunson’s release in February of 2017. He also joined a bipartisan group of 66 senators in a similar letter to Erdogan in April of 2018. Other U.S. citizens, locally employed staff of the U.S. embassy, and tens of thousands of Turkish citizens still face unacceptable harassment and human rights violations by the Government of Turkey.