Erdogan: Turkey will not back down due to US sanctions

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American Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, a 50-year-old evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina, center, waves as he leaves a prison outside Izmir, Turkey, Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Brunson who had been jailed in Turkey for more than 1 ½ years on terror and espionage charges was released Wednesday and will be put under house […]

ISTANBUL (AP) – Turkey’s president says country will not back down if the United States imposes sanctions in a diplomatic dispute involving an arrested American pastor from North Carolina.

Speaking privately to journalists late Saturday, President Erdogan broke his silence on the crisis, saying the U.S. can’t use sanctions to make Turkey back down.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced possible sanctions against the crucial NATO ally on Thursday in retaliation for the treatment of Andrew Craig Brunson, who was detained in the aftermath of a failed 2016 coup against Turkey’s government.

Brunson denies the charges.

Erdogan says he never used Brunson as a bargaining chip, although he previously linked Brunson’s return to the U.S. extradition of cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara holds responsible for the failed coup. Gulen denies involvement.

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