Trump Threatens Sanctions against Turkey over American Pastor

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Earlier, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in a tweet threatened to impose "significant sanctions on Turkey until this innocent man of faith is free". Aydintasbas asserted in a July 26 column for the opposition daily Cumhuriyet that "there was nobody left who hadn't heard about this deal".

President Donald Trump threatened North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey with "large" economic sanctions Thursday unless detained American Pastor Andrew Brunson is freed.

"To President Erdogan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the president of the United States of America: release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences". "Rule of law is for everyone; no exception", said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, also via Twitter. No one can give orders to Turkey and threaten our country.

Erdogan suggested previous year that Brunson's case could be connected to an extradition request for Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania.

The pastor's transition to house arrest led many government officials, including President Donald Trump, to speak on the matter.

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.

US senators have pushed to delay Turkey's acquisition of American-made F-35 fighter jets, citing Brunson's case and the Russian S-400 missile system Turkey has agreed to buy.

The evangelical from North Carolina has been in detention for almost two years, accused of having links to banned political groups.

Brunson was held for more than a year without charges before being accused of "dividing and separating Turkey by simply spreading his Christian faith", Pence said.

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A spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called Washington's threats unacceptable and damaging to the U.S. -Turkey alliance. Gülen denies any involvement in the coup.

Aksoy said that Turkey has displayed necessary political will and done its part to improve relations with the U.S. 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".

Brunson's detention has deepened a rift between Washington and Ankara, which are also at odds over the Syrian war and Turkey's plan to buy missile defenses from Russian Federation.

Most recently, the two locked horns after Turkey said it would not be affecting its business with Iran, just because the U.S. wanted to enforce sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

During the third and final day of the first-ever State Department ministerial to advance religious freedom, Pence and Pompeo also highlighted the plight of religious minorities across the globe.

A Turkish court declined an offer from Brunson's lawyer at a recent hearing to release the pastor pending the conclusion of the trial.

Nate Schenkkan, Director for Special Research at Freedom House, called the ruling a "case study in the absurdity of the present Turkish justice system".

USA evangelicals have been an influential part of Trump's coalition of support, both in his campaign and in his administration, and have pushed the White House to act on the Brunson case.