Turkish court rejects appeal for U.S. pastor’s release

Aug 02, 2018, 07:53
Turkish court rejects appeal for U.S. pastor’s release

The US Treasury is imposing sanctions against two cabinet-level Turkish officials over the continued detention of a US pastor by the Turkish authorities, the White House spokesperson said.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the Trump administration would sanction Turkey's minister of justice and minister of interior over the holding of 50-year-old Andrew Craig Brunson.

In the news release announcing the sanctions, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin called Brunson's detention "unjust" and "simply unacceptable".

Brunson was recently put under house arrest after 21 months in jail due to deteriorating health.

Speaking privately to journalists late Saturday, President Erdogan broke his silence on the crisis, saying the US can't use sanctions to make Turkey back down.

-Turkish relations, which has hit a rocky patch in recent years as Erdogan has moved closer to the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Turkey is calling on the United States to reverse its decision to sanction two Turkish government ministers over a detained American pastor and is threatening to retaliate "without delay".

The US has maintained that there is no credible evidence to support the charges brought against Brunson.

"President Trump concluded that these sanctions are the appropriate action", Pompeo said in a statement.

He wrote: "A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected US Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison".

Eissenstat said Turkey's failure to understand U.S. outrage over Brunson's imprisonment - particularly in Congress - played a role in the diplomatic crisis.

The Administration's action is an unprecedented escalation against Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally that hosts America's largest foreign stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Brunson's next court date is scheduled for October 12, according to Reuters.

The Turkish Ministry of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sanders said that President Donald Trump had spoken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Brunson.

But US Secretary Mike Pompeo held his third call in six days with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday to discuss Mr Brunson's detention. James Lankford, R-Okla., a key leader in congressional efforts to sanction Turkey.

Turkey vowed retaliation in a statement issued today by their foreign ministry. The State Department has said they're being held as hostages for the goal of extracting concessions on other points of contention in the Turkey-U.S. relationship.

Brunson worked in Turkey for 23 years as a pastor before he was detained more than a year ago for an alleged connection to a failed coup against Erdoğan in 2016.