Turkey: American pastor on trial for terror let out of jail

Marcus Newton
July 27, 2018

Tweeting from aboard Air Force One, Trump said: "The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being".

Turkey on Thursday slammed remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump after he threatened the country with sanctions unless Ankara releases a detained American pastor. "The rhetoric of threat against Turkey is unacceptable".

Trump and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke specifically about the issue during a mid-June call, the official said.

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

'Pastor Brunson - I hope you can hear us - we'll be helping you at some point, ' Trump added.

On Wednesday, a court in Turkey ruled that Brunson, who has been detained for the last 21 months, should be transferred to house arrest. "We have told them we will not join these sanctions", he said.

'He is suffering greatly.

Brunson's detention had become a symbol of the problematic relationship between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Turkey and the United States, and news of his release into house arrest boosted the Turkish lira, which gained nearly one percent in value against the dollar. Trump wrote on Twitter on July 26.

American pastor detained in Turkey moved to house arrest

Brunson, originally from Black Mountain, North Carolina, has lived in Turkey for 23 years.

Turkey's minister of foreign affairs, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, indicated on Twitter that Ankara will not give in to Washington's threat. Among the most pressing is a multi-billion-dollar fine that will likely be imposed on state-owned lender Halkbank for evading USA sanctions on Iran.

Last week a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would require the United States to reject global loans to Turkey until Brunson and other Americans are freed or the harassment against them ends.

"The government of Turkey continues to make a mockery of justice in its treatment of Pastor Brunson", said Kristina Arriaga, vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in response to the ruling.

"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.

US President Donald Trump decided in May to abandon the 2015 deal agreed with other world powers on Iran's nuclear programme and reimpose nuclear-related sanctions against the Islamic Republic. One of Brunson's attorneys is Jay Sekulow, who also represents Mr. Trump in the Russian Federation investigation.

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. In Iraq, religious minority groups of Yazidis and Christians victimized by ISIS [Islamic State terror group] are still in dire need of security and assistance.

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.

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Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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