ANKARA Turkey and the United States engage in a war of words over Ankara’s detention of an American pastor on terrorism charges.
On Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted, No one dictates Turkey. We will never tolerate threats from anybody.
Rule of law is for everyone; no exception, he said, insisting that the pastor had to face the legal consequences of his alleged involvement in terrorism.
US President Donald Trump had earlier written on Twitter that his country “will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson.
He called the prisoner a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being.”
Fifty-year-old Brunson faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted of carrying out activities on behalf of two groups, which Turkey considers to be terror organizations.
One is led by US-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for masterminding the failed 2016 coup against the Turkish government. Gulen denies the claim.
The other is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting a hugely-deadly separatist war against Turkey for decades.
Brunson, who used to run a Protestant church in the city of Izmir in western Turkey, was recently moved to house arrest, but Washington said that was not enough.
Over the past years, the countries have also clashed over the US support for anti- Ankara Kurdish militants, who are based in Iraq and Syria.
Most recently, the two locked horns after Turkey said it would not be affecting its business with Iran, just because the US wanted to enforce sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The United States depends heavily on its Turkey-based military forces for its operations in the Middle East.
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