Trump warns Turkey of sanctions if USA pastor not freed

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"He is suffering greatly", Trump added. Brunson has been in custody for a year and a half now, though Turkey relented a bit this week and released him from jail and allowed him to return to his residence under house arrest. "We will never tolerate threats from anybody", Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter.

"Our relevant authorities are carrying out necessary work for Turkey not to be negatively impacted by the upcoming sanctions", the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

"No one can give orders to Turkey and threaten our country".

The U.S. Senate passed a bill in June prohibiting Turkey from buying F-35 fighter jets because of Brunson's imprisonment and Turkey's purchase of Russia's S-400 air defense system. "We invite the U.S. Administration to leave aside this wrongful rhetoric and come back to the existing framework of constructive dialogue that we have been engaged in so far".

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the close of a three-day conference on religious freedom at the State Department in Washington, July 26, 2018.

"To President Erdogan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the president of the United States of America: release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences".

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Andrew Brunson, an Evangelical pastor from North Carolina who has done missionary work in Turkey for 23 years, has been the subject of calls from President Donald Trump and other USA government officials for his release.

Trump's ambassador for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, said Brunson's detention had been raised with Turkey's leadership for some months, and while his transfer to house arrest was an improvement, "he is not free".

Mr Brunson is one of 20 Americans who were charged after the coup, according to the New York Times. The pastor, who has denied the charges, faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.

Turkey responded that Brunson's detention falls within the jurisdiction of its independent judiciary.

Turkish-US relations are already strained over Washington's refusal to extradite Gulen as well as American backing for a Kurdish militia in Syria which Turkey says is linked to the PKK.

And this is not the first time in recent days the Secretary of State has been surprised by White House tweets on foreign policy, despite Pompeo's reported closeness with the president.

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The summit has also focused on religious freedom issues in China, Myanmar and Iran. He announced additional aid for a region of Iraq previously held by the Islamic State group.

Brunson's case has been adjourned until October 12. Gulen denies the claim.

Ankara blames US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for a failed coup that rocked Turkey in 2016.

"I find it hard to see how this relationship moves forward. if the Turkish government continues to detain Pastor Brunson as well as locally employed staff, journalists, and civil servants", Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said at the time.

Brunson, an Evangelical Presbyterian pastor from North Carolina, was arrested in 2016 during a government crackdown on journalists, academics, and Christian minorities, that followed an attempted coup.

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