WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) took to the Senate floor to speak on North Carolina native Andrew Brunson, who has been wrongfully imprisoned by the Turkish Government since October 7, 2016. In April, Pastor Brunson was indicted on bogus charges related to terrorism and espionage, and faces up to 35 years in prison. Senator Tillis has visited Pastor Brunson in Turkey twice, including attending his trial on April 16th. Tillis led a bipartisan letter signed by 66 Senators to President Erdogan calling for his release.

Senators Tillis and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) secured a provision in the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a plan to Congress to remove the Government of Turkey from participation in the F-35 program. The Senate Armed Services Committee voted overwhelmingly, 25-2, to pass the NDAA and it will be considered by the full Senate next week. 

Click HERE to watch the speech.

Senator Tillis on the U.S.-Turkey Alliance:

“Turkey has been an ally of the United States since 1952. If you don’t know much about the NATO alliance, what you need to know is that the alliance commits every member of NATO to send their men and women in uniform into harm's way to defend the national security of any nation of the alliance. Over the past month or so we've seen a would-be adversary in North Korea release three prisoners, we have seen Venezuela release a prisoner, but in Turkey, a NATO ally, we've seen them hold a man for over a year and a half without charges.”

Senator Tillis on his provision in the NDAA:

“I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who voted to put a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that makes us rethink whether we need our relationship with Turkey, particularly around the joint strike fighter. Turkey is a NATO ally and has access to our weapon system and manufacture a lot of the critical parts for it. What we offered in the NDAA is an examination whether or not that relationship makes sense, one, because of the way they are treating one of our American citizens and not letting him come home, and two, if that is the behavior of a NATO ally, is that where we should put our supply chains for one of the most important weapons in our arsenal? I think we need to look at it.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:

“I want to thank my colleague from North Carolina and agree with him. I believe President Erdogan is doing very bad things to the Turkish people, to our NATO alliance in the Middle East with his anti-Israeli position, and to allow the leader of Turkey to get away with all of this stuff without maximum pressure makes no sense. So I thank my colleague from North Carolina.”

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