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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined a bipartisan group of members of Congress focused on issues of religious freedom to urge Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to grant the unconditional release of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been unjustly detained in Turkey since October and denied regular and appropriate access to legal counsel and American consular services.

“Turkey’s treatment of Pastor Brunson appears to be in direct violation of the fundamental freedoms of religion and speech, which are enshrined in the Constitutions of both the United States and Turkey,” said Sen. Moran. “President Erdogan should end the wrongful imprisonment of Pastor Brunson and allow him to return to his family in North Carolina. Political disagreements must be put to rest when the universal human rights of religious freedom and freedom of speech are at stake. I would expect any of our nation’s allies to do the same.”

During his time in the Senate, Sen. Moran has been a steadfast defender of religious freedom whether under threat at home – like in the Zubik v. Burwell U.S. Supreme Court case – or abroad as when he advocated for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini.

Please find below the full letter.

Dear President Erdogan,

We write to request that Mr. Andrew Brunson, an American citizen who has been unjustly detained in Turkey, be immediately released and deported.

Mr. Brunson has worked peacefully in Turkey since 1993. There appears to be no evidence to substantiate the charges against him for membership in an armed terrorist organization. Moreover, your government has repeatedly denied regular and appropriate access to legal counsel and American consular services.

Mr. Brunson’s imprisonment has been raised repeatedly by U.S. Government officials with officials of the Government of Turkey. Unfortunately, high-level efforts to secure Mr. Brunson’s release have been unsuccessful. We have closely followed developments with this case, and are deeply disappointed.

The United States and Turkey have benefited from a close partnership for decades, and we hope to be in a position to continue strengthening these ties. Now is the time for our countries to reaffirm respect for fundamental freedoms and the rule of law while reasserting our shared commitment to addressing security challenges through partnerships and cooperation.

In this spirit of partnership, we respectfully ask you to consider Mr. Brunson’s case and how the recent treatment of Mr. Brunson places significant strain not only on him and his family, but also on the robust bilateral relationship between the United States and Turkey.

We appeal to you to inquire as to the options for promptly deporting Mr. Brunson and to act on them expeditiously.

A copy of the letter is available here.


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