Turkish Court Rejects Appeal to Free Detained U.S. Pastor


Turkey has been rocked in recent days by a sharp decline in the value of its lira after US President Donald Trump tweeted last Friday that Washington was doubling aluminum and steel tariffs for Ankara.

Another potential flash point this week will be an appeals court decision on the fate of Andrew Brunson, the evangelical pastor Erdogan accuses of aiding a coup attempt against him two years ago.

After hitting a record low of 7.24 this week, the lira has benefited from central bank steps to underpin a currency hit by concerns at President Tayyip Erdogan's influence over monetary policy and a bitter dispute with Washington.

The currency strengthened some 3 percent against the dollar on August 16, trading at around 5.75 per dollar, hours before Turkey's treasury and finance minister were scheduled to reassure global investors about the economy.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said that the tariff hikes were ordered "within the framework of reciprocity in retaliation for the conscious attacks on our economy by the United States administration".

Sanders, however, said the American pastor's potential release would not lead to an easing in the tariffs; rather, she said, it could lead to an easing of sanctions on Ankara. "We will boycott the electronics products of the U.S".

The lira rallied earlier this week and recovered to 5.75 to the dollar on Thursday morning, a gain of more than 5 percent.

The White House called the Turkish response a step in the wrong direction and signaled a hard line on Brunson's release.

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The move by Turkey's Gulf ally offered further support to a lira rally after the Turkish central bank tightened liquidity and curbed selling of the currency. The decree also doubled tariffs on American cosmetics, rice, and coal, among other imports.

Lavrov held talks in Ankara with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu days after the Turkish lira TRY= plummeted to an all-time low versus the USA dollar, while the Russian rouble RUB= lost almost 10 percent in just several days of August.

Most notably, the regulator cut by half the amount of currency swap transactions banks can participate in to 25 per cent of shareholder equity, after imposing a 50 per cent curb on Monday.

A White House official warned on Tuesday of additional economic sanctions or other pressures if Turkey continues to refuse to release Brunson.

"The US is our major trade partner but it's not the only one", Pekcan, the trade minister, was quoted as saying by the official Anadolu news agency.

The court in the western city of Izmir rejected the appeal and ruled that Brunson will remain under house arrest, the state television TRT reported.

In response, Erdogan announced boycott of United States electronic devices, including Apple iPhones.

Turkey and the USA have been locked in a heated crisis emanating from unjust sanctions and the actions of Trump, as Washington levied sanctions on Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül for not releasing American pastor Brunson, who faces terrorism charges in Turkey.