Trump threatens to sanction Turkey if they don't release USA pastor

Turkish court rules that US pastor move from jail to house arrest

"We invite the U.S. Administration to leave aside this wrongful rhetoric and come back to the existing framework of constructive dialogue that we have been engaged in so far".

Trump's tweet echoes comments Vice President Mike Pence made Wednesday night at a religious freedom summit.

"If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free", Pence said at an event hosted by the U.S. State Department.

"We have seen no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson, and call on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner".

Brunson worked in Turkey for 23 years as a pastor before he was detained more than a year ago for an alleged connection to a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdogan in 2016. One of Brunson's attorneys is Jay Sekulow, who also represents Mr. Trump in the Russian Federation investigation.

If convicted, Brunson pastor faces up to 15 years in prison for "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member", references to outlawed Kurdish militants and the network of a U.S-based Muslim cleric blamed for a failed coup attempt. He has denied the charges but faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.

"In Turkey, Pastor Andrew Brunson remains wrongfully imprisoned on false charges", Brownback told foreign delegates and civil society representatives.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) and gives remarks at their headquarters in Washington, U.S., July 6, 2018.

Turkey has also been publicly critical of criminal prosecutions in the US of state-run Halkbank official Mehmet Hakan Atilla and Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader. The Vice President also berated the governments of North Korea, China, Russia, Nicaragua, and Iran, over treatment of religious communities in their respective countries. He also condemned Islamic State group violence toward religious minorities and what he described as rising anti-Semitism in Europe.

The case, which was adjourned until October 12, has strained ties between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Turkey and the United States.

Erdogan has in the past linked Brunson's fate with that of the US -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Cem Halavurt, a lawyer for Mr Brunson, confirmed he was to be placed under house arrest, and would have to wear an electronic ankle bracelet.

USA and Turkish officials had been working on a deal that would lead to Brunson's release, and Washington had expected him to be freed at his trial last week, a source in the United States familiar with developments told Reuters on Wednesday.

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