Donald Trump threatens North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey with sanctions over detained U.S. pastor

OZAN KOSE

An American pastor who had been jailed in Turkey for more than one and a half years on terror and espionage charges was released Wednesday and will be put under house arrest as his trial continues.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday the United States would impose significant sanctions on Turkey over its detention of American Christian pastor Andrew Brunson and called on Ankara to immediately release him, the latest squabble between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

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

"We will continue working until Andrew Brunson is a free man and there is justice for him and for other unjustly detained American citizens and local Turkish employees of the United States diplomatic mission", Kosnett said, referring to additional concerns of Washington.

Andrew Brunson, an Evangelical pastor from North Carolina who has done missionary work in Turkey for 23 years, has been the subject of calls from President Donald Trump and other US government officials for his release.

Vice President Mike Pence is threatening North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey with economic sanctions over a detained American pastor held on terror and espionage charges.

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

The news is being praised by leading evangelical Christians, who form a key part of Trump's base and have long advocated for increased protections on religious freedom in the USA and overseas.

"A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected U.S. Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison".




Mr Pompeo, who is also an evangelical, hosted the summit - the first of its kind to be held at the state department. He also condemned Islamic State group violence toward religious minorities and what he described as rising anti-Semitism in Europe.

"On the other hand, I know that behind the scenes there are some very important things happening from a number of different directions and I'm hoping the government of Turkey understands that this is not a sore that they should allow to fester if they want to have a decent relationship with the United States", Bauer said.

"The fact that Brunson was moved to house arrest indicates Ankara got the message but still has plans to use Brunson as a trump card in other outstanding issues in bilateral ties", she said.

A Turkish government official said the decision to detain American pastor Andrew Brunson falls within the country's jurisdiction, in a statement Thursday.

More than 50,000 people were arrested in Turkey in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's huge post-coup crackdown.

Supporters claim he is effectively a political prisoner being held as a bargaining chip by Turkey, who is actively seeking the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric it blames for the failed coup.

Turkey wants the United States to agree to his extradition. He is the pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church, a small Protestant congregation.

During a recent hearing, Brunson he rejected charges against him. "I forgive those who lie and bear false witness against me".

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