US President Donald Trump on Friday said the United States was not going to take Turkey’s detention of US Christian pastor Andrew Brunson “sitting down,” a day after his Treasury chief said Washington could hit Ankara with further sanctions, Reuters reported.
“They should have given him back a long time ago, and Turkey has in my opinion acted very, very badly,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “So, we haven’t seen the last of that. We are not going to take it sitting down. They can’t take our people.”
“They made up this phony charge that he’s a spy, and he’s not a spy. He’s going through a trial right now, if you call it a trial,” he added.
Turkey-US relations have been strained since a Turkish court ruled to put Brunson under house arrest after almost two years of incarceration on terror charges.
Brunson has appealed the decision three times, but each petition was rejected by İzmir high criminal courts.
“Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years. They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our Country as a great patriot hostage. We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!” Trump tweeted on Thursday, after a cabinet meeting.
The US administration has sanctioned Turkey’s justice and interior ministers due to the Brunson case.
Turkey has been facing a currency crisis since then as the country’s national currency has lost almost one-third of its value. As of Friday the Turkish lira firmed to 6.07 against the US dollar from a historic low of 7.40 seen on Monday.