Turkey Shrugs Off Trump’s Threat of Sanctions Over Pastor’s House Arrest
Turkish authorities shrugged off U.S. Donald J. Trump‘s threat to slap large sanctions against Turkey over the detention of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson who was placed under house arrest after being released from jail on Wednesday.
“The United States must reconsider its approach and adopt a constructive position before inflicting further damage to its own interests and its alliance with Turkey,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said late on Thursday.
His remarks came after President Trump openly threatened to impose punitive sanctions against Turkey over the pastor whose ongoing detention caused a bitter resentment and exasperation in Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, a Turkish court in the western province of Izmir ruled for Brunson’s release. He was placed under house arrest with judicial oversight, electronic handcuff, a travel ban and regular check by local authorities.
But it hardly met the demands and expectations of the U.S. administration. In an initial reaction, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed “long overdue news” but said it was not enough.
That display of dissatisfaction took the form of an open threat by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence who spoke at the closing session of a conference on religious freedom.
“To President Erdogan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the president of the United State of America: release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences,” he told the audience.
Later, President Trump issued his threat on Twitter.
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. He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
But Ankara immediately reacted to his threat.
“No one dictates to Turkey. We will never tolerate threats from anybody. Rule of law is for everyone; no exception,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted.
He spoke with his U.S. counterpart Pompeo on the phone on Thursday.
“The Secretary underscored that it is well past time for this innocent Pastor Andrew Brunson to come home,” State Department said on Friday.