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US senators move to block warplane transfer to Turkey over 'reckless governance'

Turkey plans to buy more than 100 of the F-35 aircraft [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 April, 2018

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A bipartisan group of US senators have moved to block the transfer of F-35 warplanes to Turkey over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "reckless governance".

A bipartisan group of US senators have moved to block the transfer of F-35 warplanes to Turkey over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "reckless governance".

Republicans James Lankford and Thom Tillis, and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, introduced the measure on Thursday, local daily The Hill  reported.

"[Erdogan] has continued down a path of reckless governance and disregard for the rule of law", the group said in a statement, quoted by the political newspaper.

"Turkey's strategic decisions regrettably fall more and more out of line with, and at times in contrast to, US interests,"

"These factors make the transfer of sensitive F-35 technology and cutting-edge capabilities to Erdogan's regime increasingly risky," it added.

Turkey plans to buy more than 100 of the F-35 aircraft.

The move is the latest attempt from the lawmakers to force Ankara to release a US pastor that has been charged in Turkey with engaging in espionage.

It comes amid tensions between the US and NATO ally Turkey over Washington's support for a Kurdish militia in north Syria and US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey accuses of ordering a 2016 coup attempt.

Rights groups have accused the Turkish government of creating a "chilling climate of fear" across society and curtailing the work of human rights activists since the failed coup.

Amnesty International has said freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial have been "decimated" under the state of emergency introduced five days after the attempted putsch on July 15, 2016.

More than 1,300 associations and foundations have been shut down under the measures.

In addition, more than 140,000 public sector employees have been sacked or suspended including judges over alleged links to putschists or Kurdish militants.

Meanwhile, some 50,000 people have been taken into custody on terror charges.

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