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Tillis Takes To Senate Floor To Decry Turkey's Hold Of Pastor

Sen. Thom Tillis spoke during debate on the budget agreement Thursday.
FILE: U.S. Thom Tillis

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis took to the Senate floor today to call out the Turkish government for imprisoning a pastor originally from North Carolina.

Andrew Brunson is accused of ties to terror groups and spying in a case that has strained the relationship between Turkey and the U.S. Tillis sat in on his trial last week. He called it a kangaroo court.  

"It was very clear to me after spending twelve hours in a courtroom Turkish authorities believe that any religious organization is actually part of a broader plot to undermine the Turkish government and to promote terrorist activities," Tillis said in his floor remarks.   

Brunson was arrested in December 2016 for alleged links to both outlawed Kurdish rebels and a network led by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey blames for a failed military coup earlier that year. He faces up to 35 years in prison. Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years, rejects the accusations.  

Tillis says he’ll make a weekly speech on the Senate floor as long as Brunson remains in jail.

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