Pompeo Tells Turkey Time Has Run Out to Resolve Pastor Dispute

Larry Hoffman
August 4, 2018

Brunson, a North Carolina pastor who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, is accused of helping the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization in a failed military coup in 2016 and the PKK organization, a group related to the Kurdistan Workers' Party.

"Today I will give our friends instructions to freeze the assets in Turkey of the American justice and interior ministers, if they have any (such assets)", Erdogan said in a televised speech on Saturday, without specifying exactly to which members of the administration he was referring.

Meanwhile, Turkey has said the United States demands for the pastor's release are "unacceptable".

Before his move home last week, Brunson, who led a Protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir, had spent almost two years in jail.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will seek worldwide arbitration if the Trump administration fails to deliver the fighter jets.

The lira tumbled overnight Friday to a historic low of TL5.11 to the USA dollar, down 3.4 percent of its value against the dollar since the Trump administration's announcement of sanctions on two Turkish ministers Wednesday.

"Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu responded on Twitter, saying, "(T) he effort by the USA to impose sanctions on our two ministers will not go unanswered.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara will freeze the assets in Turkey of U.S. "justice and interior" secretaries, state-run Anadolu reported. "They argue then make up", Albayrak said, adding: "Relations will never break off".

He gave an nearly two hour policy speech in Ankara Friday, without once referring directly to the tensions.

The US Treasury Department is sanctioning Turkey's ministers of justice and interior in response to the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday.

The pastor denies the charges against him and his defence team argues the case is built on questionable witness statements.

Brunson, whose trial began in the spring, faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted. Pence, who has close ties to the evangelical Christian community, has been following proceedings since Brunson was arrested and pressing behind the scenes for action, aides said.

"Everyone's very disappointed. Nobody expected this kind of treatment (toward) two Cabinet ministers", said Ilnur Cevik, a senior adviser to Turkish strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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