Published: Thu, July 26, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Pence threatens Turkey with sanctions over detained United States pastor

Pence threatens Turkey with sanctions over detained United States pastor

"Pastor Andrew Brunson deserves to be free".

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMeadows threatens to force a vote on Rosenstein impeachment Republican feels "victimized" by Twitter "shadow banning" GOP senators surprised to attend Trump's tariffs announcement MORE and Vice President Pence on Thursday vowed to hit North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey with "significant sanctions" if it does not release American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained there for roughly a year-and-a-half.

Although it is unclear when Brunson will be transferred from prison, his lawyer said the pastor's family was "elated" by the news he would be moved to house arrest.

At the end of a recent hearing, the court inside a prison complex in the town of Aliaga in western Turkey rejected Brunson's lawyer's request that he be freed pending the outcome of the trial.

"We are very thankful for this court ruling to allow Andrew to be detained at his house instead of behind bars, where he has spent more than 21 months", said Jeff Jeremiah, the stated clerk, or overseer, of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Brunson's denomination.

Brunson, 50, who has lived in Turkey since 1993, was arrested in October 2016.

Anadolu's report did not specify the nature of Brunson's health problems. He has denied the charges but faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the news of Branson's release on Twitter, but called on Turkish authorities to drop the charges.

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The Rev. Andrew Brunson, a Protestant missionary, has spent almost two years in jail on charges of collaborating with Turkey's foes and attempting to stir chaos by inciting hatred based on religious and ethnic differences.

"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".

Brunson was indicted on charges of helping supporters of Fethullah Gülen, the US-based cleric who Turkish authorities say masterminded the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in which 250 people were killed.

Two Turkish employees from American missions in Turkey are also behind bars - a US Istanbul consulate staffer charged with espionage and an employee at the US consulate in Adana charged with supporting the PKK.

Pompeo said "no credible evidence" had been presented against the pastor and called on Turkey to resolve the case in a "fair" way. Shares in Halkbank, whose former deputy general manager was convicted in January of evading United States sanctions on Iran, jumped 12 percent.

Last September, Erdogan suggested that Turkey could free Brunson if Washington handed over Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania - an offer brushed off by Washington.

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