Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) chaired the hearing of Helsinki Commission of the US Congress, under the title of “Prisoners of the Purge” on November the 15, 2017 in Washington DC. Speaking at the hearing Senator Tillis said “Erdogan proposed an outrageous swap, “a pastor for a pastor”. Erdogan’s proposal is not justice, it is ransome.”
Innocent victims of the collapsing rule of law
Senator Tillis stated that an American citizen, pastor Andrew Brunson has spend 404 days in a Turkish jail without a trial, without access to evidence against him and facing life in prison on facribated charges of being a terrorist and a coup plotter.
Regarding Serkan Gölge, a Turkish-American NASA scientist, Senator Tillis said that Gölge has been in prison for 480 days on terrorism and espionage charges, springing from a baseless testimony of a disgruntled relative and a “bizarre compilation of circumstancial evidences”, including a dollar bill seized from his parents home.
He also stated that a veteran Turkish employee of the US Consulate in Adana, Hamza Uluçay, stands accused of terrorism for doing his job, communicating on behalf of the US government with the local community contacts.
Tillis described the abovementioned individuals as the victims of Turkey’s collapsing rule of law.
Emergency decree laws permit wide-scale abuses
Mentioning that since state of emergency declared 16 months ago, Turkish govermnent has detained more than 60 thousand people, fired or suspended over 100 thousand from their jobs, Senator Tillis stressed that the so-called decree laws authorizing these punitive measures do not establish any evidentiary standard and permitting wide scale abuses.
Tillis pointed out that as a member state of the OSCE, Turkey’s commitment to the principle of equality before law has been called into serious question.
By mentioning the NATO alliance, which Turkey is party to, he asserted that the Turkey and the US would be more successful if worked together as partners. He added, however, that there is a need to rebuild the trust in achieving common objectives.