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US sanctions loom over defiant Turkey

Congress is threatening to pursue targeted sanctions against Turkish officials as tensions heat up over the ongoing detainment of American Pastor Andrew Brunson.
Turkish soldiers stand guard at the entrance of the Aliaga court and prison complex, during the trial of US pastor Andrew Brunson, held on charges of aiding terror groups, in Aliaga, north of Izmir, on April 16, 2018.
Brunson, who ran a church in the western city of Izmir, was detained by Turkish authorities in October 2016. If convicted, he risks up to 35 years in jail. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE        (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Congress has revived threats to sanction Turkey over the detention of North Carolina Pastor Andrew Brunson, as well as other US citizens and Turkish staff members of US diplomatic missions that it believes are being held as “political pawns.”

Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., declared in a joint statement April 19 that they would pursue targeted sanctions against Turkish officials in the foreign affairs spending bill for fiscal year 2019. Their statement noted that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “has continued to violate the trust between our two nations by holding Pastor Brunson and other innocent Americans behind bars on fabricated charges. … Turkish officials who participate in the detainment of any innocent American citizen should face international consequences, and the actions against Pastor Brunson, in particular, qualify as hostage-taking.”

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