Donald Trump calls Turkey a ‘problem,’ says detained American pastor isn’t a spy
Turkish-US relations are at a low point over the detention of Andrew Brunson, who is accused of being involved in an attempted coup in 2016
US President Donald Trump attacked Turkey on Friday, saying the Nato ally is not a friend and had made up espionage charges against an American pastor detained in the country.
“Turkey’s been a problem for a long time,” Trump told reporters as he departed the White House on Friday for a fundraiser in New York. “They have not acted as a friend. We’ll see what happens.”
Relations between Turkey and the US are at a low point over the detention of Andrew Brunson, whom Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government accuses of being involved in an attempted coup in 2016.
Trump has demanded Brunson’s release and has sanctioned Turkish officials and increased tariffs on the country’s steel and aluminium in retaliation. Erdogan has in turn imposed sanctions on US goods.
On Friday, an appeal court refused to release Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for 23 years.
Turkey’s lira ended a three-day rally and slid as much as 8 per cent on Friday.
“They made up this phoney charge that he’s a spy,” Trump said. “He’s not a spy. He’s going through a trial right now, if you call it a trial. They should have given him back a long time ago.
“And Turkey has in my opinion acted very, very badly,” he added. “They can’t take our people.”