Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan admitted he ignored a U.S. deadline for releasing pastor Andrew Brunson, as his country faces severe financial difficulties.
Turkey’s currency, the lira, continued crashing to record lows on Monday, with Erdogan blaming the U.S. government for a “political, underhand plot.”
Erdogan claimed that U.S. President Donald Trump is waging an “economic war against the entire world” by doubling tariffs on steel and aluminium, The Independent reported.
“The aim of the operation is to make Turkey surrender in all areas, from finance to politics,” the president said in a speech before supporters in the city of Trabzon.
Erdogan also revealed that Turkey was given a deadline until last Wednesday to release Brunson, the American pastor at the center of current U.S.-Turkey tensions, but it was ignored, CNN noted.
“They are going to make us slaves to the dollar. Foreign exchange, interests… so what? They (US) said, ‘if you don’t release the pastor by 6 p.m. on Wednesday we will start sanctions.’ They are going to sanction our interior and justice minister,” he said.
Brunson spent nearly 20 months in jail while awaiting trial based on charges of assisting terror groups, something that he and the U.S. government strongly deny.
He has been transferred to house arrest but his fate remains unclear. The trial is set to continue in October.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who has campaigned for Brunson’s freedom, told Fox News on Sunday that the evangelical pastor must be released if Turkey wants to restore its relationship with the U.S.
“The chargers against him are complete shams. It’s a bogus event regarding Pastor Brunson and others who work for the American embassy. They had nothing to do with trying to topple the government,” Graham said, referring to other Turkish citizens working for the U.S. embassy who have also been arrested and accused of plotting against Erdogan.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Stoyan Zaimov