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Trump Threatens Turkey With 'Large Sanctions' Over Detained U.S. Pastor


U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson (file photo)

U.S. President Donald Trump says Washington is ready to impose "large sanctions" on Turkey unless authorities there allow a U.S. pastor being detained on house arrest to go free.

"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," Trump wrote in a tweet.

"He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!" he added.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu issued a Twitter statement shortly afterward saying that "no one dictates [to] Turkey."

"We will never tolerate threats from anybody. Rule of law is for everyone; no exception," he wrote.

Trump's comments come an hour after Vice President Mike Pence issued a similar threat, warning of "significant sanctions" against Ankara.

"To President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the president of the United States of America: Release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences,” Pence said, speaking at a State Department event in Washington to advance religious freedom.

Brunson, who has worked in Turkey for more than 20 years, was jailed in 2016 and was indicted a year later on terrorism and espionage charges, accused of aiding groups Ankara alleges were behind a failed military coup in 2016.

Brunson was held in custody until July 25, when he was transferred to house arrest.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move to house arrest was "not enough" and that he should be allowed to leave Turkey.

Based on reporting by dpa, Reuters, and AFP
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