Trump Demands Immediate Release Of US Pastor

US President Donald Trump

Trump Demands Immediate Release Of US Pastor

"He is suffering greatly", Trump added. "The Government of Turkey should now release Pastor Brunson and immediately return him to the United States, an action that would begin to restore the longstanding friendship between our two nations".

A spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doubled down in warning that the United States "cannot reach desired results by threatening Turkey". A readout of the conversation was not available as Al-Monitor went to press.

"This is a clear, unequivocal message to the tyrants in Turkey", Perkins wrote. Still, Thursday's threat of sanctions marks a distinct escalation in rhetoric that coincides with a broader cooling in the US-Turkey relationship. "Rule of law is for everyone; no exception".

The U.S. administration's statements and its use of threatening language against Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, is unacceptable.

Turkish prosecutors are seeking a maximum prison sentence of 35 years for the pastor, who has led a congregation in Turkey for years, and the court has imposed a travel ban on him. This can no longer fly.

The pastor, who denies the charges, faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday blasted Turkey over its detention of Brunson and threatened Ankara with U.S. sanctions unless the man was freed.

The fusillade followed a July 25 decision by a court in in the western province of Izmir to move Brunson into house arrest.

Turkey accuses Brunson of "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member" and of espionage.

Congress charges Ankara is holding them as political hostages in a brazen bid to wrest concessions on a number of thorny issues that have poisoned ties.

Most recently, the two locked horns after Turkey said it would not be affecting its business with Iran, just because the United States wanted to enforce sanctions on the Islamic Republic. It has 90 days to submit its report.

Turkey relies on Iranian energy and has indicated it will not acquiescence to United States demands to cut off supplies from its neighbour, potentially posing further risks.

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Asking not to be named, a United States official acknowledged that the sanctions were "a very important and potentially contentious issue between the two governments". In short, Stein noted Washington had expected Erdogan to become more accommodating after the June 24 elections.

Brunson was released from prison on Wednesday and placed on house arrest, and forbidden to leave Turkey.

US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said he believes there is an "excellent prospect" that Mr Brunson will come home.

On Wednesday, Brunson was escorted out of prison in the coastal city of Izmir, and left in a convoy of cars.

Turkish officials have vowed to continue trading with Iran despite the sanctions, which the former economy minister Nihat Zeybekci in May described as an "opportunity".

Brunson, who is from North Carolina, was detained in October 2016 and charged with helping the group which Ankara says was behind a failed military coup earlier that year.

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"So the Americans have given up economic activity now for an awfully long time, and I'll concede there are American companies who would love to do business with the Islamic Republic of Iran".

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