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US Senators Visit Erdogan to Request Pastor Brunson’s Release

Two U.S. senators who seek to block the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey visited President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Friday in a bid to secure the release of jailed U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson and to convince the Turkish leader to ditch the purchase of Russian S-400 missile system.

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) met with Erdogan at his presidential office in Ankara.

Erdogan was re-elected in the presidential elections on Sunday. Both senators, according to the Turkish media, congratulated the Turkish leader over his election victory.

Senator Shaheen, along with two other senators, drafted a bill last month, aiming to block F-35 delivery to Turkey over the ongoing imprisonment of Pastor Brunson and Ankara’s purchase of the Russian missiles in disregard of warnings from its Western allies.

The Brunson case remains a major source of tension between two allies. He faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted over charges of espionage, membership to a Muslim organization and supporting an outlawed Kurdish militia. Both Brunson and the U.S. administration rejects charges as ridiculous and misplaced.

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