U.S. will impose large sanctions on Turkey for the detainment of Brunson - Pres Trump

Turkish Presidency spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Thursday that "The United States should immediately return to a constructive position before it does any more damage to its own interests and our relations as allies."

Kalin continued, "The U.S. which has not taken any steps with regards to the FETO, should know that it will not achieve any results by threatening over an issue that is within the power of the independent Turkish judiciary."

Updated with reactions to Brunson's release from prison

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday that Turkey would not tolerate threats from anybody, in response to US. President Donald Trump's and Vice President Mike Pence's announcements that the United States has been considering to impose sanction on Turkey for the detainments of the U.S. paster Andrew Brunson.

“Noone dictates Turkey. We will never tolerate threats from anybody. Rule of law is for everyone; no exception,” Çavuşoğlu said on Twitter. 


The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for the long detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday in a Twitter post. 

Trump called Brunson a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being, and called for his immediate release.

Trump's Vice President, Mike Pence, had said earlier on Thursday via tweet that the United States would impose "significant economic sanctions on Turkey," unless Brunson was released. 

Pence spoke at the close of a three-day conference on religious freedom, saying "President Erdogan and the Turkish government ... Release Pastor Andrew Brunson NOW or be prepared to face the consequences."

Leading figures in the United States expressed their joy at the decision of a Turkish court to move Brunson from prison to house arrest after nearly two years behind bars on terror charges that many international observers describe as flimsy. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, shared Pence's determination to secure Brunson's full acquittal, calling for the case to be resolved immediately in a fair and transparent fashion.

Vice President Mike Pence previously made his and President Donald Trump's stance on the matter clear in a tweet, saying Brunson's release was long overdue, and that the United States would keep working to fully free the pastor.

Brunson, who was the pastor of a small church in Turkey’s Aegean city of Izmir for over 20 years, was moved on Wednesday from jail to house arrest based on concerns for his health. Brunson stands accused of committing crimes in the name of a secretive Islamic group known as the Gülen movement, who the Turkish government holds responsible for the July 2016 coup attempt, as well as Kurdish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist organization that has been at war in Turkey for over three decades.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took to Twitter on the Turkish courts decision, saying, ‘’We welcome long overdue news that Pastor Brunson has been moved from prison to house arrest in #Turkey, but it is not enough.’’

Pompeo noted that there is ‘’no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson,’’ and called on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a ‘’transparent and fair manner.’’

Jay Sekulow, attorney for both Brunson and U.S. President Donald Trump,  shared news on the house arrest of the 50-year-old pastor.

‘’We have confirmed that the Turkish government has issued an order releasing Pastor Andrew Brunson from prison and allowing him to be returned to his home in Turkey,’’ Sekulow said.

Republican Senator Thom Tillis expressed that Wednesday’s decision by the Turkish Court system to move Brunson from prison to house arrest was ‘’a step in the right direction and will help alleviate some of the unacceptable hardship and anguish him & his family have endured over the last 20 months.’’

Till used the hashtag #FreePastorBrunson in his tweet.

‘’We thank God for this sign of hope--American Pastor Andrew Brunson has been moved out of prison and put under house arrest in Turkey. Please continue to pray for him and his family,’’ Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said.

Republican Senator James Lankford expressed that ''Moving Dr. Andrew Brunson from prison to house arrest is a positive step,''but added that Turkey should now revoke all charges, completely and release Pastor Brunson immediately. 

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a statement welcoming the decision regarding Brunson, but noting ''it is not enough.''

''The Turkish government has deprived this innocent man of his due process rights and liberty for too long, and it must completely release him. If it fails to do so, the Trump Administration and the Congress should respond strongly and swiftly with targeted sanctions against the authorities responsible,” the statement said.

The next hearing for the pastor, who is at the center of tensions between Ankara and Washington, is scheduled for October. Brunson, who denies all charges, faces up to 15 years in prison.