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Meet the US Pastor Now a Bargaining Chip in Turkey

Meet the US Pastor Now a Bargaining Chip in Turkey

In a tweet, Trump asked Erdoğan to free the Christian pastor. "We will never tolerate threats from anybody". "Rule of law is for everyone; no exception".

In a statement the Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said: "Turkey is a sovereign state with a deep-rooted democratic tradition and political order which upholds the supremacy of law".

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.

The global situation "must change", said Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador at large for worldwide religious freedom.

Pence spoke at the end of a three-day conference in Washington on religious freedom.

Pence said only that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan should be "prepared to face the consequences" if the pastor is not released immediately.

Pompeo also had said that there was "no credible evidence" against Brunson and called on "Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner".

Against expectations, a court in Izmir on July 19 denied a request to release Brunson, sparking Trump to term the pastor a "hostage". One of Brunson's attorneys is Jay Sekulow, who also represents Mr. Trump in the Russian Federation investigation. The pastor, who has denied the charges, faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.

Norine Brunson wife of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson leaves a court proceeding in the trial of her husband in Aliaga

Brunson was held for more than a year without charges before being accused of "dividing and separating Turkey by simply spreading his Christian faith", Pence said.

Arrested after the failed Turkish coup attempt in 2016, Brunson was charged with supposed ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party and USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey believes inspired much of the turbulence.

Pence's announcement was delivered at a conference on religious freedom in Washington.

The summit has also focused on religious freedom issues in China, Myanmar and Iran. Pompeo said the department would provide $17 million for demining efforts in Nineveh, an area of Iraq historically home many of Iraq's religious minorities. In a potential quid pro quo Erdogan has demanded the extradition of Pennsylvania-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the leader has held responsible for the failed July 2016 military coup.

While the decision to place Brunson under house arrest could be a step by the Turkish government toward resolving his case - for instance, by deporting him - he remains on trial. "Pastor Andrew Brunson deserves to be free". He was detained by Turkish forces in the aftermath of the failed coup, The indictment against him contends he worked to convert Kurds to Christianity to sow discord in Turkey.

Mehmet Haka Atilla was convicted after well-connected Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, arrested in the U.S. in 2016, became a government witness and admitted involvement in a multi-billion-dollar gold-for-oil scheme to subvert United States economic sanctions against Iran. The crackdown has targeted journalists, activists and opposition figures.

"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". 'I forgive those who lie and bear false witness against me'.

Brunson's case has been adjourned until October 12.

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