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Pence Demands Turkey Release Jailed US Pastor Brunson, Warns of Consequences

© AP Photo / Emre Tazegul / Andrew Brunson, pastor estadounidense arrestado en Turquía
Andrew Brunson, pastor estadounidense arrestado en Turquía - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Vice President Mike Pence threatened Turkey with unspecified consequences if it continues to hold American pastor Andrew Brunson in custody nearly two years after his arrest on what the Trump administration calls bogus charges, according to a statement.

"Pastor Andrew Brunson is an innocent man held in Turkey and justice demands that he be released. Turkey would do well not to test POTUS Trump’s resolve to see Americans who are wrongfully imprisoned in foreign lands returned home to the United States," Pence said via Twitter on Wednesday.

The White House in Washington, DC - Sputnik International
White House: US Not Removing Tariffs on Turkey Even if Pastor Brunson Released
The United States has previously imposed sanctions on Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, blaming both officials for the continued imprisonment of Brunson.

Last week, Trump announced a doubling of tariffs on imports of Turkish steel and aluminum in a tweet that contained an oblique reference to deteriorating relations between Washington and Ankara — a reference that was widely interpreted as further retaliation for Brunson’s detention. The announcement did not affect tariffs on other steel- and aluminum-suppliers to the United States.

White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday that the steel and aluminum tariffs were specific to national security and not tied Brunson.

US President Donald Trump's meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington on May 16, 2017 - Sputnik International
US Nearly Broke Ties With Turkey, Ankara Disappointed With Washington's Actions
However, it was unclear whether Sanders’ remarks referred to 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum on all countries that Trump announced in May or a doubling of the tariffs announced last week to 50 percent on steel and 20 percent for Turkey alone.

Earlier on Wednesday, Turkey rejected Washington’s latest appeal for the release of Brunson and imposed retaliatory duties on US products.

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