U.S. to impose sanctions on Turkey over detained pastor

Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to purchase a collection of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft defences

Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to purchase a collection of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft defences

Turkey's case against Mr Brunson has strained relations with its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and drawn fire from US President Donald Trump.

In the bill, lawmakers demand the release of Brunson as well as any other "U.S. citizens wrongfully or unlawfully detained in Turkey".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the decision, but said on Twitter that it was "not enough" and that there was "no credible evidence" against the pastor.

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. He has been in custody since December 2016 and faces up to 35 years in prison. Sam Brownback, ambassador-at-large for global religious freedom, referenced Brunson during his opening remarks on Tuesday.

A source in the United States familiar with the developments said the sudden shift came a day before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence had been set to unveil a harsh new policy on Turkey. One of Brunson's attorneys is Jay Sekulow, who also represents Trump in the Russian Federation investigation.

The source, who was not authorised to speak publicly about the matter, said USA and Turkish officials had been working on a deal that would lead to Brunson's release, with Washington expecting him to be freed at the trial last week.

The lira currency briefly weakened to 4.89 to the dollar following reports of Pence's comments, but recovered later to stand at 4.8420 at 11:01 a.m. EDT (1501 GMT).

Mevlut Cavusoglu has further strained tensions between the US and Turkey
Mevlut Cavusoglu has further strained tensions between the US and Turkey

The pastor denies the charges and his defence team argues the case is built on questionable witness statements that should never have been brought to court. Shares of Halkbank, whose former deputy general manager was convicted in January of evading USA sanctions on Iran, jumped 12 percent.

Brunson worked in Turkey for 23 years as a pastor before he was detained more than a year ago for an alleged connection to a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdogan in 2016.

United States support for Kurdish forces fighting the Syrian civil war and its refusal to extradite Mr Gulen have angered President Erdogan, while Turkey's decision previous year to buy Russian anti-aircraft missiles drew controversy.

Gulen, who denies orchestrating the coup attempt, lives in Pennsylvania.

Trump said in a tweet last week that Brunson was being held hostage and that Erdogan should "do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father".

USA senators have pushed to delay Turkey's acquisition of American-made F-35 fighter jets, citing Brunson's case and the Russian S-400 missile system Turkey has agreed to buy.

More news: Iran Vows to Respond to US Threats with ‘Equal Countermeasures’
More news: 'Color Us Unimpressed': Iranian Government Brushes Off Trump Threats, Sanctions
More news: Pakistan election rigged in Imran Khan's favour, claims opponent

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.