Trump threatens Turkey with sanctions over detained US pastor

26 July, 2018, 21:29 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Donald Trump

Brunson, 50, is originally from North Carolina and has lived in Turkey for more than two decades.

Brunson faces up to 15 years in prison for "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups".

It's not the first time Trump has demanded Brunson be released.

President Donald Trump said in a tweet last week that Brunson was being held hostage and that Erdoğan should "do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father".

"The Turkish government has deprived this innocent man of his due process rights and liberty for too long, and it must completely release him", said Kristina Arriaga, USCIRF's vice chairman. "It would be a farce if it weren't so serious", he added. Pence spoke at the close of a three-day conference in Washington on religious freedom.

Andrew Brunson's detention deepened a rift between the United States and Turkey.

Trump tweeted Thursday that he'd hit Turkey with "large" penalties for detaining Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor who has been imprisoned in the country over charges of espionage and terrorism. "This can not be allowed to continue", he continued.

On Wednesday, a court in Turkey ruled that Brunson, who has been detained for 21 months, should be transferred to house arrest. The Turkish government has not dropped the charges, and he still faces the possibility of spending up to 35 years in prison.

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"If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free", Pence said.

The remarks follow similar efforts by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the State Department to highlight anti-government dissent in Iran.

Ties between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Turkey and the United States have been strained by the pastor Brunson case.

Erdogan has in the past linked Brunson's fate with that of the USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen has denied any role in the coup attempt, in which 250 people were killed. One of Brunson's attorneys is Jay Sekulow, who also represents Trump in the Russian Federation investigation.

Pompeo announced additional aid for a region of Iraq previously held by the Islamic State group. He was detained by Turkish forces in the aftermath of the failed coup, The indictment against him contends he worked to convert Kurds to Christianity to sow discord in Turkey. The crackdown has targeted journalists, activists and opposition figures.

At the end of a recent hearing, the court inside a prison complex in western Turkey rejected Brunson's lawyer's request that he be freed pending the outcome of the trial.

"I believe in and support Turkey's territorial integrity", he told the court.

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