Fri, Aug 24, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Erdogan spokesman says US disregards local legal process

WAR OF WORDS:Ankara and Washington have been increasingly at odds since Trump demanded that Turkey release a US evangelical pastor

Reuters, ANKARA

The spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday slammed what he said was the US’ disregard for Turkey’s legal process, saying that Washington made arbitrary comments and demands in the case of a detained evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson.

In a statement to reporters, Ibrahim Kalin called on the US to respect Turkey’s judicial independence, one of Ankara’s most pointed responses yet to criticism over its detention of Brunson.

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

His comments came after White House national security adviser John Bolton earlier told reporters that Turkey made a “big mistake” in not releasing Brunson.

Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for two decades, has been detained for 21 months on terrorism charges, which he denies, and is now under house arrest.

US President Donald Trump, who counts evangelical Christians among his core supporters, has become a vocal champion of the pastor’s case, making him an unwitting flashpoint in the tension between the two NATO allies.

“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,” Bolton said.

Kalin said the statement were “arbitrary” comments and demands.

He also hit back against the US over an investigation into state-owned Halkbank over potential violation of Iran sanctions, which Turkey wants the US Department of the Treasury to halt.

Halkbank has said that all of its transactions were legal.

A US court this year sentenced a Halkbank executive to 32 months in prison for involvement in a scheme to avoid Iran sanctions.

“It is unacceptable that certain baseless and false allegations are made against Halkbank to weaken this public bank,” Kalin said.

“It seems that the purpose of those steps is to discredit respectable institutions and persons, and to punish them unjustly rather than discover the truth,” he added.

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