WASHINGTON—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today announced the following hearing:
PRISONERS OF THE PURGE: THE VICTIMS OF TURKEY’S FAILING RULE OF LAW
November 15, 2017
Dirksen Senate Office Building
In July 2016, the Turkish people helped defeat a coup attempt that sought to overthrow their country’s constitutional order. In pursuing those responsible for the putsch, however, Turkish authorities created a dragnet that ensnared tens of thousands of people. The state of emergency declared by President Erdogan in the immediate aftermath of the coup attempt remains in effect today and gives the government vast powers to detain or dismiss from employment almost anyone, with only minimal evidence.
Caught up in the sweeping purge are several American citizens, including pastor Andrew Brunson, who worked and raised his family in Turkey for more than 23 years. Despite the efforts of the President of the United States, among many others, he has spent more than a year in jail without trial on national security charges. Additionally, a Turkish-American NASA scientist and two Turkish employees of U.S. consulates stand charged with terrorism offenses despite no involvement with violent activity—a situation faced by thousands of other Turks.
The U.S. Helsinki Commission hearing will examine the factors contributing to the detention of American citizens, particularly Mr. Brunson, and U.S. consulate employees in Turkey, as well as the judicial processes to which they have been subject. One of Mr. Brunson’s family members and his U.S. attorney will testify about his ongoing detention. Witnesses will also discuss the impact of these arrests on U.S.-Turkey relations and policy recommendations that could help secure their release and promote Turkey’s respect for its rule of law and other commitments as a participating State of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
- Jonathan R. Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State
- CeCe Heil, Executive Counsel, American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)
- Jacqueline Furnari, Daughter of Andrew Brunson
- Nate Schenkkan, Director of the Nations in Transit Project, Freedom House