Trump threatens Turkey sanctions over pastor Andrew Brunson

Andrew Craig Brunson an evangelical pastor from Black Mountain North Carolina arrives at his house in Izmir Turkey Wednesday

Trump tweeted Thusday that the "United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey" for keeping Brunson in custody.

Trump said Brunson "is suffering greatly".

Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have repeatedly called for Brunson's release and warned the Turkish government that sanctions could be put in place if the pastor is not freed.

US President Donald Trump says the United States will hit Turkey with "large sanctions" over a American pastor detained on terror and espionage charges, and he called for the pastor's immediate release.

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On Wednesday, a court in Turkey ruled that Brunson, who has been detained for 21 months, should be transferred to house arrest. The court, citing Brunson's declining health, was likely prompted to change tack by a raft of sanctions Congress has vowed to ram through over the continued detention of Brunson and other USA nationals and Turkish citizens who work for USA diplomatic missions in Turkey.

If also convicted of espionage, Mr Brunson - who denies all charges - could receive another 20 years in jail. Erdoğan has demanded Gülen in exchange for Brunson, a trade the US has wisely refused.

Mehmet Haka Atilla was convicted after well-connected Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, arrested in the U.S. in 2016, became a government witness and admitted involvement in a multi-billion-dollar gold-for-oil scheme to subvert United States economic sanctions against Iran.

Andrew Craig Brunson an evangelical pastor from Black Mountain North Carolina arrives at his house in Izmir Turkey. An American pastor who had been jailed in Turkey for more than one and a half years on terror and espionag
Detained American Pastor in Turkey to Be Moved From Jail to House Arrest

There are also lingering issues over a Turkish state-run bank that was allegedly involved in busting sanctions on Iran, which hangs in the background as Trump looks to impose a fresh sanctions regime on Iran. The United States has not granted Turkey's extradition requests.

This week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved legislation that would impose financial penalties on Turkey until the government ends the detention of Brunson and other USA citizens.

While the Kurds have proven themselves to be invaluable allies to the United States in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the USA considers the PKK, a Kurdish independence movement inside Turkey, as a terrorist organization for its violent tactics.

Pompeo, hosting the three-day confab, was surprised to hear the tough talk, sources said.

Supporters claim he is effectively a political prisoner being held as a bargaining chip by Turkey, who is actively seeking the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric it blames for the failed coup.

Brunson, originally from Black Mountain, North Carolina, has lived in Turkey for 23 years. Gulen has denied any role in the coup attempt, in which 250 people were killed.

On July 18, the court rejected his defense lawyers' pleas to let him go and remanded Brunson in custody pending a fourth hearing on October 12.

Brunson was released from prison on Wednesday and placed on house arrest, and forbidden to leave Turkey. "I forgive those who lie and bear false witness against me". Washington may have thought it had a deal with Ankara and that Brunson was going to be freed and allowed to fly home on after his third hearing on July 18.

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