Erdogan says U.S. set deadline for pastor's release

Blanche Robertson
August 12, 2018

"I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!" the president wrote in a tweet.

The Turkish lira fell 13 percent to 6.51 per dollar.

Turkish officials insist the outcome of Brunson's case exclusively relies on the judiciary, a claim the United States has refused to buy in the light of Erdogan's earlier suggestions to swap him with Turkish opposition exiles residing in the US.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Saturday criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to impose additional tariffs on Turkey.

"We can only say "good-bye" to anyone who sacrifices its strategic partnership and a half century alliance with a country of 81 million for the sake of relations with terror groups", Erdogan said.

The penalties also bar any USA transactions with the two men.

Turkey and the US are now experiencing rocky relations following Washington's imposition of sanctions on Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul for not releasing American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who faces terrorism charges in Turkey.

A delegation led by Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal failed to secure a deal last Wednesday in talks in Washington on a number of issues including Brunson.

He said Turkey's response was not going to be based on "reciprocity", adding: "Those who commit a crime will pay a price".

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"If there is anyone who has dollars or gold under their pillows, they should go exchange it for liras at our banks".

Washington earlier this month already imposed sanctions on senior Turkish officials over the Brunson case, angering Erdogan and prompting retaliatory measures by Ankara. "Relations with countries who behave like this have reached a point beyond salvaging", said Erdogan, who warned of "economic war".

Turkey, home to the Incirlik air base which is used by USA forces in the Middle East, has been a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member since the 1950s.

Turkish authorities arrested Brunson in December 2016, claiming that he was a spy and was linked to a failed plot to overthrow the government.

"Hopefully we will overcome this disaster and we will also successfully overcome this economic war", Erdogan said.

"If they have the dollar, we have Allah", he said.

Turkey wants the U.S. to extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based cleric who Turkish authorities say masterminded the coup attempt in which 250 people were killed. Gulen has denied the allegation.

His cause resonates with Mr Trump's Christian conservative supporters.

"This could be the most expensive pastor in world history", Sekulow said, referring to the harm being done to Turkey's economy. I am addressing the USA once again: it is a pity that you chose a pastor over your strategic partner in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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