A Turkish court has rejected an appeal for release from US Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been held since 2016, Habertturk reports. It comes after Washington placed sanctions on those who played a role in detaining him.
Ankara has accused Brunson of being linked to the Gulen movement, which it says was responsible for the failed coup attempt in 2016. The US government and human rights groups have disputed that claim.
Brunson has now found himself in the middle of a diplomatic spat between the two countries, with US President Donald Trump authorizing new tariffs on steel an aluminium last week to put pressure on Ankara. That move caused the lira to reach a new all-time low, but prompted a response from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who said that his country "is not crumbling." He also accused foreign players of creating "currency plots."
On Thursday, Trump tweeted that the US would "pay nothing" for the release of Brunson, but would punish Ankara if he is not released.
“Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years,” Trump tweeted. “They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our Country as a great patriot hostage. We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!”
Also on Thursday, the US threatened new sanctions against Turkey if it continues to refuse to release Brunson. "We have more that we're planning to do if they don't release him quickly," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
Erdogan made clear last week that Washington has "upset" Ankara with its "unilateralism and disrespect," and warned that Turkey would "look for new friends and allies" if the US refused to change course.
Like this story? Share it with a friend!