Pastor Brunson to be released in Turkey

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (NC-08), a member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission whose amendment to urge Pastor Andrew Brunson’s release was adopted as part of the Berlin Declaration at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly annual session, released the following statement after the Turkish court ordered Pastor Brunson be freed:

“All we can say now is thank God,” said Rep. Hudson. “I’m glad this terrible chapter is closed, and I applaud President Trump for taking strong action to help secure Pastor Brunson’s freedom. I pray Pastor Brunson can now return home and he and his family can move on with their lives. However, I remain concerned with the troubling pattern of human rights abuses and ongoing religious persecution by Turkish authorities. Pastor Brunson was being held as a political hostage and his charges should have been dropped completely.”

In July at an international gathering of parliamentarians in Berlin, Germany, Rep. Hudson represented the United States and put forward an amendment to a human rights resolution urging the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson of North Carolina, who has been custody in Turkey on political charges. His amendment was adopted as part of a human rights resolution at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly annual session.

As of July 9, when the Hudson amendment was considered and adopted, Brunson had been held for 640 days. Rep. Hudson worked with parliamentarians from Greece and Germany who have nationals similarly in custody in Turkey. The cooperative approach by three countries demonstrates that the problem is not any of these individuals and what they may have done in Turkey, but with the Turkish authorities and their crackdown on human rights and democracy.

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Rep. Hudson representing the United States at an international gathering of parliamentarians in Berlin, Germany.

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 57 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.

As a member of the Helsinki Commission, Congressman Hudson regularly represents the United States at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA), which facilitates inter-parliamentary dialogue among the participating States. He currently serves as a vice-chair of the OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism. He also co-chairs the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group, a transatlantic caucus that includes members of the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament and aims to assess international security threats, economic crises, and social issues. Through his leadership with the Commission, Commissioner Hudson is committed to combatting religious persecution and anti-Semitism, preventing human trafficking, tackling terrorism and promoting economic cooperation and free speech.