Washington, Jul 26 (EFE).- President Donald Trump on Thursday reiterated that his administration will impose sanctions on Turkey until it releases US Protestant pastor Andrew Brunson, whom Ankara accused of terrorism and who is under house arrest after being released from prison.
“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,” said Trump on Twitter.
“This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!” the president added.
With his remarks, Trump reinforced the threat that Vice President Mike Pence had made earlier on Thursday at a State Department summit on religious freedom.
Pence said at the conference that the US “will impose significant sanctions on Turkey” adding that “Brunson is an innocent man, there is no credible evidence against him.”
The Turkish government, meanwhile, said Thursday that it will not tolerate any threats.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said on Twitter that “Noone dictates Turkey. We will never tolerate threats from anybody. Rule of law is for everyone; no exception.”
And Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a communique that “We invite the US administration to return to the framework of a constructive dialogue and leave threats to the side.”
The 50-year-old Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years, was arrested along with his wife Norine on Oct. 7, 2016, and accused of terrorism by the Turkish Attorney General’s Office.
The AG’s Office in Ankara says that Brunson has links with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the secessionist Kurdish guerrillas in Turkey, and is linked with the brotherhood of Islamist preacher and former Imam Fethullah Gülen, who is in exile in the US.
Ankara blames Gülen for the failed 2016 coup against Erdogan.
A Turkish court on Wednesday ordered Brunson released for “health reasons” after spending 21 months in prison but placed him under house arrest.
The case has increased tensions between Ankara and Washington, which have been going through a critical period since the coup attempt.