The United States of America has imposed sanctions on Turkey over the detention of an American pastor, Andrew Brunson.
BBC reports that Mr Brunson is a long-term resident in Turkey. He lived with his wife and three children while working as the pastor of the small Izmir Resurrection Church.
He is being accused by authorities of having links with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) a Turkish-Kurdish rebel group fighting for sovereignty since 1980s. The group is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey and the U.S.
Mr Brunson has denied charges of espionage, but faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty. The pastor has been held for nearly two years over alleged links to political groups.
BBC also reported that he was placed under house arrest last month for health reasons.
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted “We have seen no credible evidence against Mr Brunson”.
“We believe he’s a victim of unfair and unjust detention,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Turkey has said U.S. demands for Mr Brunson’s release are “unacceptable”.
The Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday: “we call on the US administration to row back from this wrong decision”.
“Without delay, there will be a response to this aggressive attitude that will not serve any purpose,” it said.
President Donald Trump also tweeted “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. He is suffering greatly, this innocent man of faith should be released immediately.”