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Turkey slams Bolton comments on detained US pastor

Statements made by US national security adviser at odds with NATO principles, Erdogan spokesperson says
US should respect Turkey's judicial independence, says adviser (Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesperson said on Wednesday that remarks by John Bolton, the US national security adviser, regarding Turkey's economic situation were proof that the US administration is targeting a NATO ally as part of an economic war.

In a written statement responding to an interview that Bolton gave to Reuters, Erdogan adviser Ibrahim Kalin said the US administration's position were at odds with the fundamental principles and values of the NATO alliance.

There is rule of law in Turkey and the Andrew Brunson case is a legal issue

- Erdogan spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin

Kalin criticised what he said was the US's disregard for Turkey's legal process, adding that Washington had made arbitrary demands in the case of detained Christian pastor Andrew Brunson.

Kalin called on the US to respect Turkey's judicial independence, one of Ankara's most pointed responses yet to criticism over Brunson's detention.

"There is rule of law in Turkey and the Andrew Brunson case is a legal issue. There is an ongoing legal process related to this individual," Kalin said in a statement to Reuters.

"It goes without saying that we find unacceptable the disregard of the legal process by the United States, which has been making certain demands."

On Tuesday, Bolton told Reuters during a visit to Israel that Ankara “made a big mistake in not releasing Pastor [Andrew] Brunson”.

“Every day that goes by that mistake continues, this crisis could be over instantly if they did the right thing as a NATO ally, part of the West, and release [him]... without condition,” he said.

The US has imposed tariffs on imports of Turkish steel and aluminium.

"I'm not concerned at all. This is the proper thing to do," US President Donald Trump said on Monday, when asked about the potential damage to other economies.

Last week, a senior Turkish diplomatic source told MEE that Brunson may be released, but Ankara wants "something in return".

EXCLUSIVE: Turkey ready to release pastor but US offering nothing
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Turkish officials offered to free Brunson in exchange for leniency in two US government probes into state lender Halkbank during a trip to Washington last week, the source said.

The bank is being investigated over alleged Iran sanctions-busting, another source of tension between the two countries.

“We want to see some goodwill about the fate of these investigations. But the Trump administration said their judiciary was independent and couldn’t promise anything,” the source said.