U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to reject any conditions Turkey may ask for in securing the release of an American pastor detained by Ankara for almost two years.
Turkey accuses Andrew Brunson of having ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, as well as to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for a 2016 failed coup attempt.
Brunson was released from prison to house arrest earlier this month, despite a reported deal to free the preacher made between President Trump and his counterpart Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan—in which Israel agreed to deport a Turkish detainee with ties to the Hamas terror group.
The issue has created a major rift in relations between the two NATO countries, with the White House recently having imposed financial penalties on Ankara that precipitated a free-fall of the Turkish currency and caused shock waves in European and Asian markets.
“I think it’s very sad what Turkey is doing. I think they’re making a terrible mistake. There will be no concessions,” President Trump affirmed this week in an interview. “I got that person [jailed in Israel] out for [Erdogan]. I expect him to let this very innocent and wonderful man [Brunson] and great father and great Christian out of Turkey.”
Erdogan, meanwhile, has appealed to Turkish citizens to exchange American dollars for the Turkish lira, the value of which has plummeted by about 40 percent this year.
After the U.S. Embassy in Ankara on Monday was targeted by gunfire, Erdogan remained defiant, asserting that Turks would not be brought “to their knees” by the economic crisis.