Pompeo presses Turkey on detained USA pastor after sanctions

Turkey has repeatedly said Brunson's case is being handled by the courts and the government cannot intervene

Turkey has repeatedly said Brunson's case is being handled by the courts and the government cannot intervene

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday pushed Turkey to release a detained American pastor whose case prompted the Trump administration to slap sanctions on senior Turkish officials, and said North Korea is still lagging behind on its promise to denuclearize.

"We have said since the beginning that threatening language and sanctions will not get any result", he said. "It's pretty straightforward. Pastor Brunson is an innocent pastor and they need to let him return to the United States".

Mr. Brunson had denied all charges and his case has become a cause celebre for USA evangelicals and the Trump administration. "However, Turkey always wishes to resolve these issues via diplomacy, dialogue and mutual understanding", Cavusoglu told reporters after meeting his USA counterpart Mike Pompeo in Singapore. Pompeo also said he would be seeking the release of several local employees of the USA diplomatic missions in Turkey. Speculative actions in financial markets following the announcement of the sanctions would be rendered void, he said. "We repeated this today", he said after a meeting with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Singapore.

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The Erdogan government has vowed to retaliate against the US sanctions, announced Wednesday, but has not revealed what they will be.

The Turkish foreign ministry called the sanctions a "disrespectful intervention in our legal system" that would harm "the constructive efforts toward resolving problems between the two countries".

Brunson, 50, was arrested in December 2016 following a failed coup on charges of "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member" and espionage.

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White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that Brunson was a "victim of unfair and unjust attention by the government of Turkey" as she announced sanctions. He risks up to 35 years in prison if found guilty. Americans would generally be prohibited from doing business with them.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday said he told his USA counterpart Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that threats and sanctions would not work after Washington targeted Turkish ministers over the detention of an American pastor. Gulen denies the claim.

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