Erdoğan calls Trump, Pence remarks ‘language of US evangelist, Zionist mentality’

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday called sanction threats against Turkey by US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence “language of the US evangelist, Zionist mentality,” the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Trump and Pence last week stated that the United States would impose “large sanctions” on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free.

The İzmir 2nd High Criminal Court on July 25 ruled to move Brunson from pretrial detention, in which he has been held since October 2016, to house arrest in İzmir but barred him from leaving the premises or the country. The same court the week before had ruled to keep Brunson, who faces 35 years in prison on espionage and terrorism charges, in prison, setting the next hearing for Oct. 12.

“Turkey does not have any problem with religious minorities. It is not possible to accept the threatening language of the US evangelist, Zionist mentality,” Erdoğan told reporters in Ankara.

“We will continue on the path we believe in without the slightest concession to our freedom, sovereignty or judicial independence,” added Erdoğan.

“We will not give credit to such threatening language.”

Erdoğan on Sunday also rebuffed remarks by Trump and Pence, saying Turkey would not retreat in the face of pressure and comparing the situation to US-imposed sanctions on Iran.

Calling Washington’s threat of sanctions “psychological warfare,” Erdoğan said: “They have to know: We are not dependent on America. We will continue with our people in solidarity as we have done up until now. The US should not forget that it will lose a strong and sincere partner if they do not change their attitude.”

Regarding a US Congress defense bill at that would block the transfer of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey unless Ankara releases jailed US citizens and employees and cancels its purchase of an S-400 air defense system from Russia, President Erdoğan said Turkey would resort to international arbitration if the sale of F-35 jets to Ankara is blocked.

Turkish President Erdoğan in September had called on Washington to swap Brunson for Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Muslim cleric living in self-imposed exile in the US who Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government accuse of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016.

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