Turkey’s turn toward totalitarianism recently cost it a sale of F-35 fighter jets from the U.S., and it could cost it a lot more if the regime doesn’t release imprisoned American Pastor Andrew Brunson soon, Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday.
Pence announced the ultimatum during his remarks at the State Department’s first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom: Either return Brunson safely to the United States, or pay a steep financial cost.
“To President Erdogan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the president of the United States of America. Release pastor Andrew Brunson now, or be prepared to face the consequences,” Pence said during the summit.
“If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey,” he added.
A portion of his remarks can be viewed here:
If Turkey does not take immediate action to free Pastor Andrew Brunson and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until this innocent man of faith is free. pic.twitter.com/GM9WohpMRm
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) July 26, 2018
Brunson, an evangelical pastor from North Carolina, has been held captive in Turkey for almost two years now over trumped-up allegations that he assisted with an attempted coup against Erdogan. He faces up to 35 years in prison.
While Brunson was released from prison after a court ruling on Wednesday, he remains under house arrest in Turkey.
“It’s not good enough,” said Pence of the news. “Pastor Andrew Brunson deserves to be free.”