US-Turkey Face off Deepens
There is no end in sight to the faceoff between American and Turkey over American pastor, Andrew Brunson, jailed by Turkish government for allegedly founding the ‘The Kurdish Church of Messiah.’
Brunson and his wife have been answering to charges bordering on founding a church for rebels, ‘spying, and trying to change the constitutional order’ since October 2016 when he was arrested.
He has been detained in Turkey since December 2016 on espionage and terror-related charges after being accused of helping a group that allegedly coordinated the failed July 2016 military coup in the country. Both Brunson and the U.S. vehemently deny the accusations.
The White House has been clashing with Turkey and pressuring Ankara to release the pastor.
But stepping up its diplomatic fight against the Turkish government, the US yesterday rejected offer from the country to release Brunson, for the suspension of investigation into Turkish bank, Halkbank.
It is reported that the Turkish government agreed to drop terrorism charges against the pastor in exchange for the US government to drop fines totaling billions of dollars against the bank.
A senior White House official reportedly said the US strongly rejected the offer because real NATO ally would not have arrested Brunson in the first place,” the official volunteered.
Earlier on, in reaction to the development, the US had sanctioned Turkey’s Justice and Interior Ministers last month and doubled tariffs on steel and aluminum again this month in a bid to get Turkey to release the pastor.
American President, Donald Trump had tweeted: “I have just authorised 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! Aluminum will now be 20% and steel 50%.
“Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time.”
This diplomatic row has led to steep economic decline in Turkey.