Turkish court rejects appeal for United States pastor’s release

Alicia Cross
August 2, 2018

The Treasury Department announced Wednesday that it is imposing sanctions on Turkish Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu over the continued detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

USA pastor Andrew Brunson reacts as he arrives at his home after being released from the prison in Izmir, Turkey July 25, 2018.

Turkey's foreign minister responded forcefully to the statements from Trump and from Pence, tweeting last week that Turkey will "never tolerate threats from anybody".

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders called Brunson's detention "unfair", saying that Trump had spoken with Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the pastor.

The United States will slap sanctions on two high-ranking Turkish officials after that nation refused to release a Christian pastor who has been imprisoned since 2016, CNN reported.

As a result of the sanctions, any property or interest in property of the two Turkish officials within USA jurisdiction will be blocked, and US persons will be generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them, the Treasury Department said.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey would not make compromises regarding the independence of the judiciary, and said the remarks of the "evangelist, zionist mentality" in the United States was unacceptable.

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Although the statement did not detail what sanctions Turkey will retaliate, but it's expected that similar sanctions will be imposed on Attorney General and Secretary of Interior of the US administration.

Erdogan says he never used Brunson as a bargaining chip, although he previously linked Brunson's return to the USA extradition of cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara holds responsible for the failed coup.

The lira fell more than 1.7%, past the key level of 5 versus the dollar at 2 p.m. ET.

The move comes after President Trump on Thursday threatened on Twitter to impose "large sanctions" against Turkey over the imprisonment of Brunson, who has been accused by Turkish authorities of supporting terrorist groups.

The pastor denies the charges and his defense team argues the case is built on questionable witness statements. Ozkan had been detained by Israel on terror-related charges, but was deported this month.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke Wednesday with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, and has plans to meet him next week to demand Brunson's freedom, the State Department said.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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