Turkey's Erdogan vows to defy US 'threats' amid economic war

Turkey's Erdogan vows to defy US 'threats' amid economic war
Turkey's President Erdogan has blasted the US for choosing to compromise relations with a strategic ally over a pastor.
2 min read
11 August, 2018
Washington slapped sanctions on Turkey, angering Ankara who responded similarly [Getty]
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit back at US "threats" on Saturday, as a diplomatic rift between Ankara and Washington over a jailed American pastor widens.

"It is wrong to dare bring Turkey to its knees through threats over a pastor," Erdogan told a rally in the Black Sea town of Unye.

"I am calling on those in America again. Shame on you, shame on you. You are exchanging your strategic partner in NATO for a priest."

The comments come amid a spat between the US and Turkey over Ankara's jailing of an American pastor on spying charges.

Washington slapped sanctions on Turkey's interior and justice ministers this week, angering Ankara which responded with the tit-for-tat move, with Turkey saying they will freeze the assets of the US "justice and interior ministers" last week.

Pastor Andrew 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).

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

Trump's administration has made the welfare of American Christian preachers across the world a priority of its foreign policy.

Earlier today, 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.

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