Tags: Donald Trump | Religion | Trump Administration | Turkey Coup | turkey | pastor | andrew brunson

Tillis: 'Long-Term Consequences' If Turkey Fails to Return US Pastor

(Fox News' "America's Newsroom")

By    |   Tuesday, 31 July 2018 04:53 PM

There could be long-term ramifications regarding the United States' relations with Turkey if an American pastor is not released from house arrest and allowed to return home in North Carolina, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said Tuesday.

Tillis was on Fox News to discus the plight of Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has spent 21 months behind bars in Turkey on terrorism and spying charges. The U.S. government has said the charges are false, and last week Brunson was released from prison and placed under house arrest at his home in Izmir, Turkey.

U.S. officials, including President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are lobbying the Turkish government to drop all charges against Brunson and send him back to the U.S.

"I think that it could have long-term consequences," Tillis told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."

"I'm the co-chair of the senate NATO observer group . . . We want to get back to normalized relations where we work together on military and economic issues. But this is something that's really going to harm any positive progress with Turkey until this is resolved."

Trump has threatened to place sanctions on Turkey if Brunson is not released. A spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the threat is unacceptable.

"The United States must reconsider its approach and adopt a constructive position before inflicting further damage to its own interests and its alliance with Turkey," Ibrahim Kalin said.

Tillis talked with Brunson in recent days and said the pastor is in good spirits.

"I spoke with Pastor Brunson on Friday, he was absolutely in good spirits being released, even under house arrest," Tillis said. "But he is very much aware that could change any day. He could be back in prison.

"We want him out of the country, and we want to also focus our attention on others who are detained that I feel like – after Pastor Brunson – we have to have a discussion with the Turkish government over."

Brunson was arrested in October 2016 in the wake of the attempted coup d'état in Turkey. He was accused of being part of the Gulen movement, a group Turkey has labeled a terrorist organization.

Tillis is hopeful sanctions will not have to be applied to secure Brunson's release.

"I for one hope that we don't have to move forward with sanctions, but I think we do have to express how committed we are to Pastor Brunson's release, and I applaud the president for being willing to take that step," he said. "I'm sure he didn't do that lightly. This could all be resolved with the release of Pastor Brunson."

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If an American pastor Andrew Brunson is not released from house arrest in Turkey and allowed to return home in North Carolina, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., says there could be long-term ramifications regarding the U.S. relations.
turkey, pastor, andrew brunson, thom thillis, religious persecution
Tuesday, 31 July 2018 04:53 PM
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