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.
Pastor Andrew Brunson, a fine gentleman and Christian leader in the United States, is on trial and being persecuted in Turkey for no reason. They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is. Hopefully he will be allowed to come home to his beautiful family where he belongs!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018