The Trump administration would consider relenting on U.S.-imposed sanctions on Turkey related to the detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson if he is released, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Wednesday.
Sanders addressed reporters questioning whether increases in steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey were related to the country’s continued detention of Brunson. On Wednesday a Turkish court rejected another appeal seeking the release of Pastor Brunson. Hours later Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, issued retaliatory tariffs on the United States.
A reporter asked Sanders about the Turkish court’s decision to deny Pastor Brunson’s appeal for release.
“We feel that Turkey, and specifically President Erdoğan, have treated Pastor Brunson — who we know to be a very good person and a strong Christian who’s done nothing wrong — very unfairly, very badly,” replied Sanders. “And it’s something that we won’t forget in the administration.”
Sanders later stated that the increased steel and aluminum tariffs the U.S. has placed on Turkey are not related to the charges against Pastor Brunson. “The tariffs are specific to national security,” she stated.
“The sanctions, however, that have been placed on Turkey are specific to Pastor Brunson and others that we feel are being held unfairly,” said Sanders. She said the administration would consider removing those sanctions if Pastor Brunson is allowed to leave Turkey. “We would consider that at that point,” she said.