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Erdogan Blasts U.S., Trump Over Pastor Being Detained By Turkey

American pastor Andrew Brunson (file photo)
American pastor Andrew Brunson (file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country will stand up to the United States over the detention of an American pastor and accused President Donald Trump of conducting a "psychological war."

On July 29, Turkish broadcaster Haberturk quoted Erdogan as also saying that the United States would be losing a "strong and sincere partner" if it does not change its attitude.

Tensions have increased in recent days between the NATO allies over Ankara's detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was transferred to house arrest after serving 18 months in a Turkish prison.

Brunson, who has worked in Turkey for more than 20 years, was jailed in 2016 and was indicted a year later on terrorism and espionage charges.

He was accused of aiding groups that Ankara alleges were behind a failed military coup in 2016.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on July 28 about Brunson’s status.

The State Department said the two were "committed to continued discussions to resolve the matter and address other issues of common concern."

In his comments to Haberturk, Erdogan denied that Turkey had negotiated on the Brunson case and that any "attitude change" was "Trump's problem."

The remarks come after Trump in a tweet threatened Turkey with unspecified financial penalties unless authorities there allowed the pastor to leave the country.

"The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man, and wonderful human being," Trump wrote in a tweet.

"He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!" he added.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Hagerturk