Impose sanctions on Turkey – U.S. senator

Sentencing of a NASA engineer in Turkey warrants additional U.S. action against the country, a U.S. senator wrote in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal.

A dual Turkish-U.S. citizen Serkan Gölge was sentenced to over 7 years in prison on “trumped-up charges of membership in a terrorist organization,” James Lankford, a Republican senator from Oklahoma, said.

Several other U.S. citizens, including evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson remain in prison as part of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s crackdown in the wake of the attempted coup in the summer of 2016, Lankford said.

The U.S. state department on Jan. 12 urged U.S. citizens to “reconsider” travelling to Turkey, citing politically motivated detentions as well as the risk of terrorism.

The warning is appropriate, but the sentencing of Gölge warrants additional action, the U.S. senator said.

The administration should also consider advising U.S. business owners to consider the safety of their employees before expanding operations into Turkey. And most important, it should impose sanctions against Turkish officials involved in the prolonged and wrongful imprisonment of Americans.

The U.S. secretary of state can also deny entry to the U.S. to Turkish officials “knowingly responsible for the wrongful or unlawful prolonged detention of citizens or nationals of the United States,” Senator Lankford wrote.

The U.S. should work with Turkey as it faces down our common enemy of Islamist terrorism, but we must also realistically confront Mr. Erdoğan’s challenges to the relationship.