Turkish high court rejects appeal for US pastor Brunson's release

Alicia Cross
August 18, 2018

A Trump tweet last week announcing a doubling of aluminum and steel tariffs for Turkey triggered the rout in the currency markets.

Indeed, the stakes are high for Turkey, as the country's economic problems extend well beyond the current crisis with the U.S.

"They should have given him back a long time ago, and Turkey has in my opinion acted very, very badly", he added.

Brunson is under house arrest after spending almost two years in a Turkish prison under what the Trump administration has said are bogus allegations of aiding terrorists.

"The trade talks and the back and forth on Turkey is really going to be the stuff everybody's watching", said Blake Gwynn, an interest rate strategist at NatWest Markets in Stamford, Connecticut. "We haven't seen the last of that".

In an intensifying cycle of tensions with the United States, Erdogan has called for a boycott of USA electronic goods such as iPhones and Ankara has sharply hiked tariffs on some U.S. products.

Pastor Brunson, an evangelical from North Carolina, was arrested in Izmir, Turkey in October 2016, and was accused without any evidence of helping terrorist groups and of engaging in espionage.

President Donald Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish metals exports to the United States last week prompting Ankara, which says it will not bow to threats, to raise tariffs on USA cars, alcohol and tobacco by the same amount yesterday.

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Erdogan also renewed a call for Turks to convert their dollars into the lira, to help strengthen the currency. The tariffs come a day after Erdogan said Turkey would boycott US electronic goods, singling out iPhones .

"We have more that we're planning to do if they don't release him quickly", Mnuchin said during a White House cabinet meeting on Thursday, according to pool reporters.

"I have great faith in the American people and I'm hoping that at a minimum, anyone who has a Nutella sandwich, anyone who has towels that come from Turkey that unwillingly they're participating in lifting the economy of Turkey, which is something that we should not be doing when they're holding Americans like Pastor Brunson", Arriaga said.

The influential Protestant evangelical church in the United States is a major support base for Mr Trump.

According to the Middle East Eye, officials in Ankara are willing to concede to USA demands for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an evangelical preacher accused of playing a role in the attempted coup there in 2016. The US has refused to extradite Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been using the dispute with Turkey about a detained pastor to garner votes ahead of congressional elections in November. He is once again defiant against Western economic and political actors, whom he accuses of striving to destabilise Turkey under his rule, this time via the runs on the Turkish lira.

Every move between Ankara and Washington at the moment is like prodding a hornet's nest.

Since the new presidential system came into effect, global investors have been trying to understand where Erdoğan would steer the Turkish economy.

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