A U.S. bill that would restrict loans from international financial institutions to Turkey until it frees arrested U.S. citizens, including Andrew Craig Brunson, an evangelical pastor jailed on terror and espionage charges, cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday evening. The committee passed the legislation, dubbed the "Turkey International Financial Institutions Act," which was introduced by Senators Thom Tillis, Jeanne Shaheen, James Lankford and Bill Nelson last week.
"We never wanted this bill to be necessary, but we warned the Turkish government that there would be consequences if it did not cease its unjust detention and harassment of U.S. citizens and locally employed embassy staff," committee Chairman Bob Corker said in a statement, ignoring the judicial process in Turkey.
Brunson was transferred to house arrest Wednesday after being detained in İzmir province in December 2016. He was charged with spying for the PKK - a designated terrorist group in the U.S. and Turkey - and the Gülenist Terrorist Group (FETÖ), which orchestrated the July 2016 coup attempt. He is scheduled to appear before a court in October for his third hearing after the court rejected an appeal for his release in July. The bill is now expected to pass in the Senate and be reconciled with the version passed by the House of Representatives. A compromise measure must then be passed by both chambers and signed by President Donald Trump. The bill directs the U.S. executive of the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to oppose future loans, except those for humanitarian purposes, to Turkey by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the EBRD until the U.S. administration certifies to Congress that Turkey is "no longer arbitrarily detaining or denying freedom of movement to United States citizens or locally employed staff members of the U.S. mission to Turkey."