Turkey detainees priority for U.S. government - U.S. assistant secretary

The U.S. officials are continuing to work with their U.S. counterparts for the release of U.S. citizens and local employees wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, A. Wess Mitchell said in the Washington Post.

Mitchell, denied a recent claim by U.S. academic Henri Barkey that the U.S. administration is not doing enough to resolve the cases of those wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey, save one high profile pastor.

The case of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson, who remains on house arrest in Turkey and could face up to 35 years in prison for membership in terrorist organizations, has brought the topic of U.S. citizens wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey into the spotlight. 

One criticism, which was voiced by Barkey, was while Brunson has received extensive coverage and special attention, others -- multiple U.S. citizens and three locals who worked for the U.S. mission who were detained following Turkey’s 2016 coup attempt -- have been overlooked. 

Stressing that under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s leadership, the U.S. government has been fighting to get these cases resolved, Mitchell explained that the bulk of the work is done out of the spotlight in an article he penned for the Washington Post.

‘’Our local employees are the “backbone of U.S. diplomatic efforts abroad,” and it is imperative that the Turkish government release them, along with Mr. Brunson, NASA scientist Serkan Golge and any other U.S. citizens detained under specious charges. We continue to work on their cases with our Turkish counterparts,’’ Mitchell said.

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