Turkey expects US to scrap sanctions after pastor's release: spokesman

Turkey expects US to scrap sanctions after pastor's release: spokesman
The US imposed steel and aluminium tariffs against Turkey earlier this year to pressure Ankara to release American pastor Andrew Brunson.
2 min read
22 October, 2018
Andrew Brunson, after his release, as he departs Turkey [Getty]

A spokesman of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday Ankara expects Washington to lift US sanctions after the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

The US imposed steel and aliminum tarrifs on Ankara in response to the detention of Brunson, who ran an evangelical church in the coastal city of Izmir.

Turkey's lira has plunged more than 40 percent this year, in part over the Brunson-linked sanctions.

In all, Brunson was held for two years and was convicted and sentenced earlier this month of espionage and aiding terror groups, only to be quickly released on the basis of good behaviour and time served.

The pastor had been accused of links to US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara blames for the 2016 attempted coup, along with ties to the banned Kurdish militant group the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Brunson faced up to 35 years in jail.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has made the welfare of American Christian preachers across the world a priority of its foreign policy.

Evangelical Christians are a key voting bloc of Trump's Republican Party.

Trump personally hailed Brunson's release, which has been seen as an opening for Ankara and Washington to restore frayed ties.

"I want to thank President Erdogan of Turkey - he was terrific. We all worked together, it wasn't easy... we don't pay ransom. I want to thank the people of Turkey and I think we'll probably now really establish a terrific relationship with Turkey," Trump said at a campaign rally last Sunday.

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