Trump threatens to sanction Turkey if they don't release U.S. pastor

Trump threatens to sanction Turkey if they don't release U.S. pastor

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMeadows threatens to force a vote on Rosenstein impeachment Republican feels "victimized" by Twitter "shadow banning" GOP senators surprised to attend Trump's tariffs announcement MORE on Thursday threatened to impose economic sanctions on Turkey over its refusal to release an American pastor that has been detained in the country for more than year.

The Second High Penal Court in the western province of Izmir rejected Andrew Brunson's plea for release, and instead made a decision to continue listening to the testimonies of witnesses in the next hearing scheduled for October 12.

US officials had been under the impression that the deal was in place, the source said, adding that when Brunson was not released, Pence spoke with Trump and the two agreed harsh new policy measures were needed to force the issue.

The Trump administration escalated its pressure campaign the day after a Turkish court allowed Andrew Brunson to be transferred to house arrest after 21 months in detention.

Brunson has been in custody since he was arrested in December 2016. If found guilty, the pastor faces up to 35 years in jail. State-owned Anadolu news agency said the court decided, after re-evaluating the case, that he could leave prison on health grounds and because he would be under effective judicial control.

"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".




The lira currency briefly weakened to 4.89 to the dollar following reports of Pence's comments, but recovered later to stand at 4.8420 at 11:01 a.m. EDT (1501 GMT).

Brunson has denied all of the charges levied against him. One of Brunson's attorneys is Jay Sekulow, who also represents Trump in the Russian Federation investigation.

Brunson is one of tens of thousands of people detained on similar charges during the state of emergency declared by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of the 2016 failed coup bid.

Two Turkish employees from American missions in Turkey are also behind bars - a US Istanbul consulate staffer charged with espionage and an employee at the US consulate in Adana charged with supporting the PKK. Shares of Halkbank, whose former deputy general manager was convicted in January of evading US sanctions on Iran, jumped 12 percent.

Last September, Erdogan suggested that Turkey could free Brunson if Washington handed over Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania - an offer brushed off by Washington.

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