Turkish President Recep Erdogan is refusing to release Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, who was detained after Erdogan's 2016 power consolidation in the country. From CBN:
They cannot make Turkey back down with sanctions," he told Turkish media. "We will not step back."
"The US should not forget that unless it changes its attitude, it will lose a strong and sincere partner like Turkey," he continued.
Brunson is facing a possible 35-year prison sentence on charges that he helped a group that tried to overthrow the government in 2016. His attorneys and the Trump administration say he's innocent and a political hostage of Erdogan.
Last week, President Trump asked Erdogan directly for Brunson's release and threatened new sanctions if the Turkish government does not comply.
The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being. He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
During a speech to the State Department's first Misterial to Advance Religious Freedom, Vice President Mike Pence also demanded Brunson be released.
If Turkey does not take immediate action to free Pastor Andrew Brunson and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until this innocent man of faith is free. pic.twitter.com/GM9WohpMRm— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) July 26, 2018
Pence also reiterated the seriousness of the U.S. to punish Turkey during an interview with Fox Business over the weekend.
As I said earlier this week - and @POTUS has made clear - transferring Pastor Andrew Brunson to home arrest, it’s just not good enough. And the United States of America is prepared to bring sanctions against Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free. pic.twitter.com/nEHmcPQkpk— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) July 29, 2018
Last week Brunson, who is reportedly in bad health, was moved from a Turkish prison to house arrest.