Turkey dismisses United States sanctions over detained pastor, vows dialogue

Glen Norman
August 4, 2018

Finance minister Berat Albayrak, who is President Tayyip Erdogan's son-in-law, also said relations with the United States would never break down, despite the temporary escalation. The Turkish government accuses Mr Brunson of links to the coup attempt of that year, and he faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty.

The US imposed the sanctions on Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, arguing that both men played a major role in the arrest and detention of the pastor.

While Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu had agreed to resolve the situation in a meeting with Pompeo, he also says that the threatening language and sanctions from the United States won't get them anywhere.

Erdogan called the sanctions a "serious disrespect towards Turkey" and accused the USA of hypocrisy for demanding the release of evangelical pastor Andrew Craig Brunson while ally Turkey tries him over alleged links to terror groups.

Brunson, who was arrested in 2016 and is now under house arrest pending trial, denies the allegations.

"They agreed to continue to try to resolve the issues between our two countries", Nauert said. "Of course, it is not expected to solve the crisis and all problems in just one meeting, but we agreed on close cooperation, dialogue and working together to solve the problems and when we return to our countries, we will keep taking steps together to solve those problems and work on it".

"The Turks were on notice that the clock had run and it was time for Pastor Brunson to be returned and I hope they'll see this for what it is, a demonstration that we're very serious", Pompeo said. "These are innocent people", he said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday unveiled first 100-day action plan of Turkey's new presidential Cabinet in the capital Ankara.

Turkey has been trying for two years to have Gulen extradited from the United States.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that Brunson was a "victim of unfair and unjust attention by the government of Turkey" as she announced sanctions.

The Turkish lira, which has been in decline against the dollar for most of 2018, fell to a record low of five to the dollar on Wednesday, after dropping 1.7 percent following the sanctions announcement.

The American pastor was also charged with supporting outlawed Kurdish PKK fighters.

His lawyer's appeal for his release was rejected this week.

Top U.S. officials, including President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, have said there is no evidence against Brunson and demanded his release.

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