Erdogan responds to Trump: We will stand our ground

Turkish President says U.S. will lose a strong and sincere partner if it does not change its attitude.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey will stand its ground after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to slap sanctions on Ankara if it does not free an American pastor.

The United States would be losing a strong and sincere partner if it does not change this attitude, Erdogan said, according to Reuters.

In a tweet on Thursday, Trump threatened to impose economic sanctions on Turkey over its refusal to release American pastor Andrew Brunson who has been detained in the country for more than year.

“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!” he tweeted.

Brunson, who was transferred to house arrest this week after 21 months of detention in a Turkish prison, has worked in Turkey for more than two decades.

Brunson has been accused of supporting the group Ankara says was behind a failed military coup in 2016 and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The pastor, who has denied the charges, faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.

Hours after Trump’s tweet, Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu fired back at Trump in a tweet of his own.

“No one dictates [to] Turkey. We will never tolerate threats from anybody. Rule of law is for everyone; no exception,” he stated.

Brunson was accused of working with Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric who Erdogan claims orchestrated the failed coup in 2016.

Turkey has pressed, so far in vain, for the United States to extradite Gulen over the July 2016 coup, in which more than 240 people were killed. Gulen denies any involvement in the failed coup.

Last December, the U.S. and Turkey resumed full visa services for the other country after a months-long dispute.

The dispute began in October, when the U.S. mission in Turkey reduced visa services in response to a U.S. mission employee being detained in Turkey.

The Turkish mission in Washington subsequently announced a similar move, with both sides saying they needed to reassess each other's commitment to the security of their personnel.