Trump threatens Turkey with sanctions over detained USA pastor

American Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, has been put under house arrest in Turkey due to his health problems

American Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, has been put under house arrest in Turkey due to his health problems

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 on Thursday threatened to impose economic sanctions on Turkey over its refusal to release an American pastor that has been detained in the country for more than year.

"If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free", Pence said.

"This is a welcome first step, but it is not good enough", Pence said during remarks at the close of a three-day conference on religious freedom at the State Department.

"The Turkish government has deprived this innocent man of his due process rights and liberty for too long, and it must completely release him", said Kristina Arriaga, USCIRF's vice chairman. One of Brunson's attorneys is Jay Sekulow, who also represents Mr. Trump in the Russian Federation investigation.

Andrew Craig Brunson, an evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, N.C., waves from a vehicle as he arrives at his house in Izmir, Turkey, July 25, 2018.

Brunson's detention deepened a rift between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Washington and Ankara - also at odds over the Syrian war and Turkey's plan to buy missile defences from Russian Federation - and financial markets took his transfer order as a positive sign.

US officials had been under the impression that the deal was in place, the source said, adding that when Brunson was not released, Pence spoke with Trump and the two agreed harsh new policy measures were needed to force the issue.

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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.

US President Donald Trump had described the latest ruling to keep him in jail a "disgrace", calling on his Erdogan to help free him. "Pastor Andrew Brunson deserves to be free", said Pence.

Brunson faces up to 15 years in prison for "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups".

Cem Halavurt, a lawyer for Mr Brunson, confirmed he was to be placed under house arrest, and would have to wear an electronic ankle bracelet.

Brunson, who is from North Carolina and has worked in Turkey for more than 20 years, has been accused of helping the group Ankara says was behind a failed military coup in 2016. The case was adjourned until October 12.

Turkish-US relations are already strained over Washington's refusal to extradite Gulen as well as American backing for a Kurdish militia in Syria which Turkey says is linked to the PKK.

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