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Iran Press TV

Trump frustrated with Turkey for not releasing US pastor: White House

Iran Press TV

Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:40PM

US President Donald Trump is said to have "a great deal of frustration" over Turkey's refusal to release an American evangelical pastor, whose nearly two-year detention in the country has already caused an unprecedented deterioration in Ankara-Washington relations.

"The president has a great deal of frustration on the fact that Pastor (Andrew) Brunson has not been released as well as the fact that other US citizens and employees of diplomatic facilities have not been released," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a briefing on Tuesday.

"We're going to continue to call on Turkey to do the right thing and release those individuals," she added.

The 50-year-old Christian pastor was arrested in December 2016 and later indicted by a Turkish court on charges of having links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group and the movement of the US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Brunson has already dismissed the charges as "shameful and disgusting." If the evangelical pastor is found guilty, he will face up to 35 years in prison.

The pastor has for two times appealed to a Turkish court to release him from house arrest and lift his travel ban. Brunson's next hearing as part of the trial is scheduled for October 12.

Relations between the two NATO allies have spiraled into a full-blown crisis over Brunson's imprisonment and then house arrest in Turkey. The growing rift has also sent the Turkish lira into a tailspin.

Late last month, Trump wrote on Twitter that his country "will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson." The US president also said last week that he had ordered to double US tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

Erdogan has called on Turks to help defend the country against the US-launched economic war on his nation. He has also appealed to Turks to exchange dollars and gold for Turkish lira to support the plunging currency.

Turkey and the US also disagree over their military interventions in the Syria war, Ankara's plan to buy missile defense systems from Russia and the US conviction of a Turkish state bank executive on sanctions-busting charges in January.

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