Turkey refuses to release pastor despite threat of US sanctions

A Turkish appeals court upheld U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson’s house arrest Thursday despite threats of retaliation from the Trump administration, according to Bloomberg.

Brunson has lived in Istanbul for more than 20 years and held under house arrest for nearly two on espionage and terror-related charges.

His detention is the source of the latest feud between President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump tweets ICE will begin removing 'millions' of undocumented migrants MORE and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The White House said the charges against Brunson are baseless.

Last week, Trump said he would double tariffs on steel and aluminum from Turkey until Brunson is released. The administration has also sanctioned two top Turkish officials. Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinDemocrats ask OSC to review whether Kushner violated Hatch Act Democrats ask OSC to review whether Kushner violated Hatch Act Trump: My 'financial statement' will probably come out 'at some point' MORE on Thursday threatened even more sanctions if Turkey does not release Brunson quickly.

Turkey has retaliated with its own tariffs on U.S. goods, including on cars and coal, and by threatening to boycott U.S. electronics.

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“Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years. They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our Country as a great patriot hostage. We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!” Trump tweeted Thursday.

 

The tariffs have taken their toll on the Turkish economy, with the lira dropping 20 percent in value last week, according to a CBS News report.