Erdoğan says US threatened Turkey: Release Brunson ‘by 6 p.m. tomorrow’

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday revealed details of his negotiations with the US administration over the release of American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, saying the Americans threatened Ankara and told them to release Brunson “by 6 p.m. tomorrow.”

“When this game was proposed to us, we said, ‘We would rather die than accept this sort of belittlement and abasement.’ He [US President Donald Trump] threatened us: ‘You will send him [Pastor Brunson] to us by 6 p.m. tomorrow’,” Erdoğan told party members in Rize province.

“We are not some servant. We are Turkey, standing on our own two feet with 81 million people,” Erdoğan added, underlining that the US has a history of a mere three centuries compared to Turkey’s long history.

Turkey has been facing a currency crisis since its relations with the US administration were dramatically strained over a court decision to put American pastor Brunson under house arrest after almost two years in pretrial detention rather than release him as demanded by the US administration.

Following the court ruling US President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened to impose “large sanctions” on Turkey if Brunson were not freed.

After imposing economic sanctions on two Turkish ministers on Aug. 1 for their role in the detention of American evangelical pastor Brunson, President Trump on Friday ramped up his sanctions on Turkey by doubling US tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

In a speech in the eastern town of Bayburt, Erdoğan said Turks “will respond to those who start an economic war against” the country, in an attempt to restore confidence in the Turkish lira after it plunged by more than 20 percent against the dollar on Friday.

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