Turkish president: US set deadline to release detained pastor

Turkish president: US set deadline to release detained pastor
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The Trump administration gave Turkey until last Wednesday to release American pastor Andrew Brunson from custody, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reported revealed. 

Erdogan mentioned the deadline in comments he made Sunday to his supporters in Trabzon, according to Reuters.


The Trump administration threatened to impose additional sanctions on Turkey if it did not meet the deadline, Erdogan said.

The Trump administration followed through on its apparent threat, announcing on Friday it would double tariffs on steel and aluminum from Turkey to leverage Brunson’s return. The Treasury Department previously sanctioned two Turkish officials involved in Brunson’s detainment at the start of August.

Following the announcement, the Turkish lira also hit record lows at 20 percent to the dollar, in the midst of a financial panic about the country’s economic health.

Brunson’s confinement has been one of a series of issues tearing at the ties between the United States and Turkey, a fellow member of NATO.

Brunson was arrested in October 2016 on charges of being an American spy and terrorist complicit in the failed coup attempt against Erdogan in the summer of 2016. The allegations against Brunson have since evolved into a complex narrative that contends all American Christian churches are run by a shadow organization, CAMA, to which FBI and CIA members belong, among other things.

Sen. Thomas Tillis (R-N.C.) previously wrote in an opinion piece for The Hill that Brunson lost 50 pounds in prison and was confined to a cell with limited human contact 24 hours a day.

Brunson was moved to house arrest in late July, which Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo violated ethics rules, State Department watchdog finds Why the US needs to clear the way for international justice Tim Scott to participate in GOP event in Iowa MORE called “long overdue” but “not enough.”

An evangelical Christian and Presbyterian, Brunson had worked in Turkey as a pastor for Resurrection Church for 23 years prior to his arrest.