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Turkey ignores US deadline to release pastor, lira plunges

Relations are increasingly strained between Turkey and the US [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 August, 2018

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Turkey's economy continues to fall against the dollar as the US threatens Ankara with more sanctions if an American pastor is not released from prison.
Turkey was given a deadline by the US until last Wednesday to release an American pastor jailed on spying charges, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday.

Erdogan revealed details of conversations held between the two countries last week, with Washington threatening sanctions if the pastor is not released, while speaking to supporters in the Black Sea coastal city of Trabzon.

Washington recently slapped sanctions on Turkey's interior and justice ministers, angering Ankara which responded with the tit-for-tat move.

After Pastor Andrew Brunson was not released by Ankara when Wednesday's deadline passed, the US announced new economic penalties against key Turkish exports.

"The aim of the operation is to make Turkey surrender in all areas from finance to politics. We are once again facing a political, underhand plot. With God's permission we will overcome this," Erdogan added.

Yesterday, Erdogan described the Turkish economy as "under attack", and urged Turks to buy the lira.

The economy's nosedive comes as President Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium, further hurting the lira as it drops over 16 percent to record lows.

Newly imposed sanctions are set to take place from August 13 according to the White House.

"We can only say 'good-bye' to anyone who sacrifices its strategic partnership and a half century alliance with a country of 81 million for the sake of relations with terror groups," Erdogan said.

"You dare to sacrifice 81-million Turkey for a priest who is linked to terror groups?"

Brunson, a protestant cleric living in Izmir, was placed under house arrest last week.

He had already spent nearly two years in jail on charges of espionage and supporting terror groups when he was arrested following an attempted military coup in Turkey.

The pastor has been accused of links to US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara blames for the attempted coup, along with ties to the banned Kurdish militant group the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Brunson could face 35 years in jail if found guilty of the charges.

"We will give our answer, by shifting to new markets, new partnerships and new alliances, to the one who waged an economic war against the entire world and also included our country," Erdogan said.  

 

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