American pastor Andrew Brunson has been imprisoned or otherwise detained by the Turkish government for over 700 days — since October 2016.
The United States is saying this is too long and that the American citizen needs to be allowed to come home.
Although Turkey and the U.S. are allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Middle Eastern country has not complied with efforts to have the 50-year-old pastor released.
Now, the U.S. is cracking down.
F-35 transfers to Turkey blocked as Turkish President refuses to release Andrew Brunson, a detained U.S. pastor https://t.co/VfQdKgQIQV
— Roll Call (@rollcall) September 14, 2018
As the Washington Examiner reports, Congress has temporarily banned the transfer of about 100 coveted F-35 joint strike fighters to Turkey.
The prohibition was agreed to by House and Senate lawmakers in the House and Senate as they expediently worked to finalize an $855 billion defense spending bill. According to the report, the bill includes a passage which says none of the funding allocated for the Department of Defense can be used to deliver F-35s to Turkey.
#Congress has banned transfers of F-35 joint strike fighters to #Turkey showing their disapproval for imprisoning U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson and there is no indication Turkey intends to turn over the detained pastor, despite threats from Trump. https://t.co/PMBbNqYpJv pic.twitter.com/lfeB1EtPRQ
— Adam Milstein (@AdamMilstein) September 14, 2018
The legislation backs a prohibition signed into law by President Trump last month as part of the Pentagon’s annual policy bill and is another sign of the deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and Ankara over Brunson.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was given a 90-day deadline to send Congress a report on the U.S. relationship with Turkey. None of the F-35s made by Lockheed Martin can change hands until it is delivered.
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It seems however that Turkey has no intention to release Brunson.
— Jay Sekulow (@JaySekulow) September 15, 2018
For more than 700 days, we’ve fought for #PastorAndrew Brunson to be returned to the #UnitedStates. The sham trial for his release continues, but enough is enough. We’ve once again made an oral submission at the #UN to demand #Turkey free Pastor Andrew. https://t.co/xsjniWaI8P
— Jay Sekulow (@JaySekulow) September 13, 2018
Here’s even more, per Roll Call:
Conferees for the spending measure approved the legislation Thursday for consideration in the House and Senate, all but ensuring the bill will reach President Donald Trump’s desk before federal funding expires at the end of the month. The $855 billion bill also funds the departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services.
The F-35 language, found in the Senate-passed version of the bill, is the latest in a series of punishments the United States has doled out to Turkey. In August, the Trump administration levied sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rebuffed Trump’s request to release Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who has been detained in Turkey for nearly two years.
Congress and the Trump administration believe Brunson, who has been evangelizing in Turkey for more than 20 years, is wrongly detained on false charges of espionage and terrorism. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who represents Brunson’s home state and helped author the provision in the defense authorization bill that would block the transfer of F-35s to Turkey, calls the charges against Brunson “bogus.”
When will the injustices for innocent #PastorAndrew Brunson end? He has been held in #Turkey for 704 days. We’ve once again submitted a crucial oral presentation at the #UN demanding Turkey finally release Pastor Andrew. https://t.co/f2F40Lk5LG
— ACLJ (@ACLJ) September 12, 2018