Economy

Turkey says to retaliate against USA decision to impose sanctions over pastor

Turkey says to retaliate against USA decision to impose sanctions over pastor

The Trump administration slapped sanctions on two top government officials in Turkey Wednesday over the continued house arrest of an American pastor working there.

"We believe he's a victim of unfair and unjust detention", White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Mr Brunson has denied charges of espionage, but faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.

Last month Trump hit out on Twitter at Turkey over its decision to keep the pastor in custody after a Turkish court denied a request for the release of Andrew Brunson.

The Turkish leader previously connected Brunson's return to the U.S.to the extradition of Fethullah Gulen.

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President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman said on Tuesday that Turkey would not "bow down to any threats", and would retaliate against any US sanctions.

"By focusing it narrowly on Brunson and personalizing it, it weakens the U.S. position and makes it harder for Turkey to resolve this", said Eissenstat.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Trump asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a 14 July phone call to let Ozkan go in a "trade" for Brunson, who has spent 21 months in Turkish detention.

Turkey's foreign ministry said it had shared "necessary information" with the USA, but insisted the case should be left with its judiciary.

Turkey and the United States are North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, and Congress is considering canceling the transfer of two F-35 fighter jets to Turkey. "It's time - once and for all - for the Trump-Pence Administration to take away Erdogan's veto of honest American remembrance of Turkey's World War I-era genocide and exile of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, and other Christian nations". The decision "will seriously damage the constructive efforts made in order to resolve problems between the two countries", the ministry said in a statement.

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

The threatening language of the United States will not benefit anyone, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday in relation to the pastor's case.

Brunson's next court date is scheduled for October 12, according to Reuters. He added that Turkey expects the issue to be resolved through diplomacy, and foreign ministers of the two countries would meet this week.

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 White House has not specified what sanctions might be imposed on Turkey.

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Additionally, many attempts have been made throughout the years to draw the public's attention to the on-going siege of Gaza. Israel says that Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, is using the protests as a cover for cross-border attacks.


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