Pence: US will sanction Turkey unless North Carolina pastor freed

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Tony Perkins, another Trump ally and advisor, the move a "clear, unequivocal message to the tyrants in Turkey" in a tweet. "We will never tolerate threats from anybody", Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter.

The trial, which is dominated by secret witness testimony, has been repeatedly condemned as farcical by U.S. officials and other monitors.

Brunson, originally from Black Mountain, North Carolina, has lived in Turkey for 23 years. This can no longer fly. The Turkish government has not dropped the charges, and he still faces the possibility of spending up to 35 years in prison.

Just hours earlier, US 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".

Andrew Brunson, the American pastor who has been imprisoned in Turkey for almost two years without evidence on terror and espionage charges, will be moved to house arrest, according to a Turkish newspaper.

Brunson, 50, has been charged with espionage as well as aiding outlawed Kurdish militants and an American-based anti-government Turkish cleric in a 2016 coup attempt.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, welcomed Andrew Brunson's release from prison - but said the decision did not go far enough.

Turkey on Friday hosted an American delegation for talks to address concerns about the potential negative impact on its economy of the looming reimposition of USA sanctions against Iran.

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The U.S. Senate passed a bill last month including a measure that prohibits Turkey from buying F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets because of Brunson's imprisonment and Turkey's purchase of Russia's S-400 air defence system. It has 90 days to submit its report. Otherwise, Congress wants the administration to block financing for Turkey's troubled economy from global lending institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In short, Stein noted Washington had expected Erdogan to become more accommodating after the June 24 elections.

Brunson was transferred to house arrest on Wednesday, ostensibly for health reasons.

Speaking at the State Department's Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom - a new event under the Trump administration - Pence was joined by Brunson's daughter, Jacqueline Furnari.

The house arrest ruling was issued by a criminal court in the Izmir region where Brunson was being held.

A top Turkish official said that Cavusoglu and Pompeo spoke by telephone on Thursday about the escalating row.

Turkish officials have vowed to continue trading with Iran despite the sanctions, which the former economy minister Nihat Zeybekci in May described as an "opportunity".

He was charged with spying for the PKK - a designated terrorist group in the USA and Turkey - and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group Turkey accuses of orchestrating the defeated July 2016 coup attempt. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for October.

"So the Americans have given up economic activity now for an awfully long time, and I'll concede there are American companies who would love to do business with the Islamic Republic of Iran".

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