Cicilline Introduces Bipartisan Ban F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Sales to Turkey Act

May 17, 2018

WASHINGTON – As the Erdogan regime grows increasingly hostile and authoritarian by the day, U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) is introducing the bipartisan Ban F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Sales to Turkey Act today.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to Turkey’s thuggish, reprehensible behavior,” said Cicilline, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “There have to be consequences for any regime that commits such horrific human rights abuses and constantly steps out of line with our own interests. Banning the sale of these state-of-the-art weapons to Turkey is just common sense. It’s important that we hold NATO members to the same standard we would hold any other country.”

The Ban F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Sales to Turkey Act prohibits the sale or transfer of F-35 aircraft and any related intellectual property or technical data to Turkey. The ban can only be lifted if the President of the United States certifies that Turkey is not:

  1. Taking steps to degrade NATO interoperability;
  2. Exposing NATO assets to hostile actors;
  3. Degrading the general security of NATO member countries;
  4. Seeking to import or purchase defense articles from a foreign country with respect to which sanctions are imposed by the United States;
  5. Wrongfully or unlawfully detaining one or more United States Citizens; or
  6. Engaging in military action without taking proper steps to ensure that international legal norms are followed to prevent civilian deaths and suffering

Under the Joint Strike Fighter program, Turkey had been slated to purchase more than 100 aircraft. In recent months, however, the relationship between the United States and Turkey has grown more and more strained. The Turkish regime, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has grown increasingly authoritarian in recent years, cracking down on dissent and free speech. They have even held American citizens in captivity in order to use them as bargaining chips with the U.S. Government.

In January, Cicilline and other members of Congress spoke out against Turkey’s humanitarian abuses during their indiscriminate attacks on the Kurdish community in Afrin, Syria. Cicilline also spoke out in May 2017, and led a Congressional hearing, after Erdogan’s bodyguards assaulted protesters gathered outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C.

Cicilline is introducing this measure today with the support of three co-sponsors – Republican Congressmen Ted Yoho (FL-03), Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), and Robert Aderholt (AL-04), as well as Democratic Congressmen John Sarbanes (MD-03), Frank Pallone (NJ-06), and Jim McGovern (MA-02). The bill has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.