Donald Trump threatens Turkey with sanctions over USA pastor's detention

Roman Schwartz
July 27, 2018

Trump also has praised his counterpart, saying Erdogan's leadership is "getting very high marks".

Cavusoglu also spoke to his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo over the phone following Trump's sanction threats, Anadolu Agency reported.

After two years of uncertainty in a Turkish prison, Pastor Andrew Brunson of Black Mountain, N.C., is finally being released.

"He is suffering greatly".

Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have repeatedly called for Brunson's release and warned the Turkish government that sanctions could be put in place if the pastor is not freed. Trump wrote on Twitter on July 26.

In Washington, D.C., word of Brunson's release from prison was hailed as a victory Wednesday at the State Department's three-day Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, even as supporters continue to seek his complete vindication. Brunson denies the charges.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has described Washington's sanctions against Iran as inappropriate, saying Ankara has told U.S. officials that it will not abide by the bans.

Turkey on Friday hosted an American delegation for talks to address concerns about the potential negative impact on its economy of the looming reimposition of United States sanctions against Iran.

Donald Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, both threatened Turkey with sanctions on Thursday if Ankara does not release U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, who is under house arrest.

Pence said Thursday that if Turkey does not take immediate action to free Andrew Craig Brunson, "the United States of America will impose severe economic sanctions on Turkey".

Turkey condemns the possibility of American sanctions for detaining a USA pastor, saying its 'unacceptable'.

Mevlut Cavusoglu has further strained tensions between the US and Turkey
Mevlut Cavusoglu has further strained tensions between the US and Turkey

Halavurt also says Brunson's family is happy progress is being made in his case, but they still feel betrayed by the country their kids grew up in.

US President Donald Trump had described the latest ruling to keep him in jail a "disgrace", calling on his Erdogan to help free him.

Mr Brunson is one of 20 Americans who were charged after the coup, according to the New York Times.

While the Kurds have proven themselves to be invaluable allies to the United States in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the US considers the PKK, a Kurdish independence movement inside Turkey, as a terrorist organization for its violent tactics.

Aksoy added, "As regards the Brunson case, necessary information has been provided to our US counterparts on various occasions and it has been clearly expressed that this issue is totally within the competence of the independent Turkish judiciary".

Brunson's detention deepened a rift between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Washington and Ankara - also at odds over the Syrian war and Turkey's plan to buy missile defences from Russian Federation - and financial markets took his transfer order as a positive sign.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent panel established by Congress, said Wednesday the move to house arrest is "not enough".

And this is not the first time in recent days the Secretary of State has been surprised by White House tweets on foreign policy, despite Pompeo's reported closeness with the president. He announced additional aid for a region of Iraq previously held by the Islamic State group.

The accusation contends that he worked to convert Kurds to Christianity to sow discord in Turkey amid a failed coup against the government two years ago.

Gulen, who denies orchestrating the coup attempt, lives in Pennsylvania.

While the decision to place Brunson under house arrest could be a step by the Turkish government toward resolving his case - for instance, by deporting him - he remains on trial. The crackdown has targeted journalists, activists and opposition figures. He is the pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church, a small Protestant congregation. He told Al-Monitor, "I highly doubt that Washington would agree to swap Pastor Brunson with any convicted felon in the United States, especially with an individual guilty of conspiracy to evade Iran sanctions". "I forgive those who lie and bear false witness against me". The case was adjourned until October 12.

Cohen recording of pay-off talk broadcast on US TV
Trump took to Twitter this morning to express outrage about Cohen's recording him in the first place. The tabloid never published the story.

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