Release pastor or face tough sanctions: US to Turkey

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Washington, July 27 (IANS) US Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday that his country will slap “significant economic sanctions” on Turkey unless it immediately releases a detained US pastor.

Pence said Turkey should take immediate action to free Andrew Brunson or “be prepared to face the consequences”, Xinhua reported.

US President Donald Trump also tweeted earlier that Ankara should release Brunson, calling the cleric’s detention “a total disgrace”.

The 50-year-old pastor, who was detained two years ago on spying charges, faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty.

A Turkish court on Wednesday decided to move him from prison to house arrest under judicial control due to his health problems. However, he was not allowed to leave the country.

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Turkish authorities accuse him of espionage and having links to the network led by US-based outlawed cleric Fethullah Gulen and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Ankara accuses Gulen and his network of being behind the failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government in 2016, an accusation that Gulen has denied.

–IANS

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