US waging 'economic war' on Turkey over pastor's detention

US waging 'economic war' on Turkey over pastor's detention
The Turkish president's spokesman acccused Washington of starting a global trade war and disrespecting Turkey's legal system.
2 min read
23 August, 2018
The Turkish lira has lost 37 percent of its value this year [Getty]
Turkey has accused Washington of waging an "economic war" on Ankara, as the fate of a US pastor held in the country deepens a rift between the NATO allies.

Spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said the US did not respect Turkey's legal system, as Andrew Brunson remains held on terror charges after being arrested 21 months ago.

The comments came after President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton told Reuters he was skeptical about the pledge of $15 billion of investment support for Turkey by Qatar’s emir, which was "utterly insufficient to have an impact on Turkey's economy".

The lira has lost 37 percent of its value this year, compounded by the dispute with Washington.

"His statement is proof that the Trump administration is targeting a NATO ally as part of an economic war," Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a written statement to Reuters.

"The Trump administration has ... established that it intends to use trade, tariffs and sanctions to start a global trade war," Kalin said, pointing to similar disputes with Mexico, Canada, Europe and China.

"Turkey has no intention of starting an economic war with any party. It cannot, however, be expected to keep silent in the face of attacks against its economy and judiciary," he said.

"There is rule of law in Turkey and the Andrew Brunson case is a legal issue. There is an ongoing legal process related to this individual," Kalin added.

Bolton told Turkey on Wednesday, during a visit to Israel, that it could end the damaging spat "instantly" if authorities released Brunson, who faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

The US however rejected an earlier offer made by Turkey for Brunson's release, and that of other US citizens as well as three Turkish nationals working for the US government. 

Turkey's offer was on the condition that Washington drop a probe into Halkbank, which is facing possible muti-billion dollar fines for helping Iran evade US sanctions.

While Ankara has refused to release Brunson, the US has doubled tariffs on Turkish goods. Turkey has since complained to the World Trade Organisation over what it sees as exorbitant measures.