Turkey rejected United States call to abide by anti-Iran sanctions

27 July, 2018, 10:35 | Author: Martin Tyler
  • American pastor detained in Turkey moved to house arrest

US President Donald Trump demanded Thursday that Turkey free a detained American pastor, warning Washington was ready to impose "large sanctions" against its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said 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 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". Brunson has been in custody for a year and a half now, though Turkey relented a bit this week and released him from jail and allowed him to return to his residence under house arrest.

The tweet came shortly after Trump's deputy, Vice President Mike Pence, warned of "significant" sanctions on Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

The vice-president, who is himself an evangelical Christian, attended the global summit on religious freedom at the state department on Thursday, which is thought to have sparked the outburst.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously linked Brunson's return to the USA to the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, the cleric Turkey's government holds responsible for the failed July 2016 military coup.

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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.

"This is one example of why religious freedom matters, and so we're going to have over 80 delegations here at the State Department in a handful of days, 40 of my counterparts, foreign ministers", Pompeo said in the interview.

In June, US diplomats also spoke about possible sanctions against Turkey, but related to its purchase of anti-aircraft missiles from Russian Federation. He announced additional aid for a region of Iraq previously held by the Islamic State group.

While the decision to place Brunson under house arrest could be a step by the Turkish government toward resolving his case - for instance, by deporting him - he remains on trial.

Ankara blames US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for a failed coup that rocked Turkey in 2016.

"The intent, as I understand it, is to signal to Turkey that there is an off ramp and that movement on the two issues, the S-400 and Brunson, would signal a Turkish desire to reset the relationship", said Aaron Stein, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who is an expert on Turkey and military affairs.

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

His next hearing is set for October 12.

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

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

Brunson has lived in Turkey for 23 years and served as pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church, a small Protestant congregation.

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