Published: Thu, August 16, 2018
Economy | By

White House: 'We Won't Forget' How Turkey is Treating US Pastor

White House: 'We Won't Forget' How Turkey is Treating US Pastor

According to a Bloomberg story, the decision follows President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's call on Tuesday for a boycott of US electronics including Apple Inc.'s iPhones to retaliate for the Trump administration's punitive actions over the past few weeks to pressure Turkey into releasing an American pastor.

Last Friday, US President Donald Trump said he had authorised higher tariffs on aluminium and steel imports from Turkey.

Turkey is increasing tariffs on imports of series of US products, escalating a feud with the United States that has helped trigger a currency crisis.

After that meeting, a White House official expressed concern that "nothing has progressed" so far in the Brunson case and said the Trump administration is "going to stay extremely firm on this".

The long relationship between Turkey and the United States was always "high maintenance" and often in "crisis management mode", said Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, director of the office of the German Marshall Fund in Ankara, the Turkish capital.

Those consequences are US sanctions and a doubling of tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, announced by President Trump on Friday.

Mr Trump has repeatedly asked for Mr Brunson's release, while Ankara said the decision was up to the court.

President Erdogan jailed Brunson almost two years ago following a military coup attempt, arguing Brunson has ties to the coup plotters.

The lira had plunged to record lows on Monday, but has since clawed back some of its losses, not only after the retaliation on tariffs, but also after the Turkish Central Bank announced banks would be given help to keep money moving around the system.

"Pastor Andrew Brunson is an innocent man held in Turkey & justice demands that he be released. The central bank has not done this through a change in the benchmark rates, but they are squeezing liquidity, so the result is the same", he said.

The currency strengthened some 2 percent against the dollar, trading at around 5.85 per dollar, hours before Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak was scheduled to update global investors about the economy. Turkey's exports to the United States, its fifth-largest export market, were $8.7 billion.

The chief executive of Turkey's Akbank said the banking sector remained strong and the measures taken to support the market had started to have an impact, adding there was no withdrawal of deposits. On Tuesday, he said Turkey would boycott USA electronic products.

On Wednesday, a court rejected an appeal for Brunson's release from detention and for a travel ban against him to be lifted, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter that the tariffs on certain products were increased "within the framework of the principle of reciprocity in retaliation for the conscious economic attacks by the United States". Brunson is now on trial and held on house arrest, with few indications that Turkish officials intend to comply with the demands - despite USA sanctions that were leveled against them two weeks ago. "These are appeals that require fast decision making because they are related to an individual's freedoms", Brunson's attorney Ismail Cem Halavurt told Reuters.

Amnesty International says a court in Istanbul has ruled for the release from prison of the rights group's former Turkey chairman.

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