Trump threatens Turkey sanctions over pastor

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President Donald Trump says the U.S. will hit Turkey with “large sanctions” over a American pastor detained on terror and espionage charges, and he called for the pastor’s immediate release.

Tweeting from aboard Air Force One, Trump said: “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.” Trump said Brunson “is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!”

Just hours earlier, Vice President Mike Pence said that if Turkey does not take immediate action to free Brunson, “the United States of America will impose significant sanctions on Turkey.” Pence spoke at the close of a three-day conference in Washington on religious freedom.

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis tweeted following Trump’s annoucement. 

“Thank you, Mr. President. It’s time for the Turkish government to release Pastor Andrew Brunson and return him to the U.S. #FreePastorBrunson,” Tillis wrote. 

Brunson, 50, an evangelical Christian pastor originally from North Carolina, was let out of jail Wednesday, after 1 1/2 years, to serve house arrest because of “health problems,” according to Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency.

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