Two US senators on Tuesday introduced a bipartisan bill requiring the imposition of sanctions on Turkish officials responsible for the detentions of US citizens and local consulate staff in Turkey, a statement on the legislation said.
The bill, introduced by Republican Senator Roger Wicker and Democrat Ben Cardin, also calls on President Donald Trump to urge Turkey to respect for the fundamental freedoms, saying thousands were victims of politically-motivated prosecution.
“The Turkish government’s false imprisonment of Americans and Turkish citizens employed by the United States in Turkey is a gross violation of their human rights,” Senator Cardin said in the statement. “Our bill makes clear that the United States will not tolerate years of Turkish recalcitrance on these cases.”
The detention of US consulate workers and American citizens is one of many issues dividing NATO allies Ankara and Washington, also at loggerheads over Syria policy and Turkey’s planned purchase of Russian missile defenses.
Their detentions prompted Washington in October 2017 to suspend all non-immigrant visa applications from the country, triggering a reciprocal move from Ankara that contributed to a deep crisis in bilateral ties.
The bill introduced Tuesday would require the US administration to impose sanctions on all senior Turkish officials responsible for the “wrongful” detentions of US citizens and staff, including barring the officials from travel to the United States and freezing any US assets.
“While the Turkish government made a step in the right direction with the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson last October, more needs to be done for Turkey to show good faith and act like a NATO ally,” said Republican Senator Thom Tillis, one of six original sponsors of Tuesday’s bill.
Serkan Golge, a dual Turkish-US citizen, was found guilty of being a member of an armed terrorist organization earlier this year and sentenced to seven years, six months in prison.