The White House rejected Turkey’s offer to release detained American pastor Andrew Brunson in exchange for the U.S. dropping an investigation into Turkish bank Halkbank, a senior White House official told the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.
Ankara offered to drop terrorism charges against Brunson if the U.S. pulled back the billions of dollars in fines it has brought against Halkbank. The U.S. reportedly declined the offer, setting in motion the possibility of further retaliatory measures against Turkey.
“A real NATO ally wouldn’t have arrested Brunson in the first place,” the source told the Journal.
The Trump administration has turned Brunson’s detention into a rallying call among Christian conservatives, particularly Evangelicals, and the president has feuded with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan openly over the American pastor. The U.S. has called the charges against him baseless. MORE: http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/402588-white-house-rejects-turkeys-offer-to-release-detained-pastor-wsj