By Nilay Kar Onum and Faruk Zorlu
Turkey's presidential spokesman has blasted Washington for disregarding the legal process in the case of an American pastor facing terrorism-related charges.
In a written statement to Reuters late Wednesday, Ibrahim Kalin said: “There is the rule of law in Turkey, and the Andrew Brunson case is a legal issue. There is an ongoing legal process related to this individual.
“It goes without saying that we find unacceptable the disregard of the legal process by the United States, which has been making certain demands.”
Someone being a priest or a clergyman is not enough to make a person innocent, Kalin said.
"The judiciary is the decision-maker, and everybody, including the U.S., has to respect the decision of the Turkish judiciary. Just as it has so far, this rule will continue to hold."
His remarks came after U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton earlier told Reuters that Turkey made a “big mistake” in not releasing Brunson.
Turkey and the U.S. are facing rocky relations following Washington’s imposition of sanctions on two Cabinet ministers for not releasing pastor Andrew Brunson, who faces terrorism-related charges in Turkey.
On Aug. 10, U.S. President Donald Trump ramped up his attack on Turkey by doubling U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports.
In retaliation, Turkey raised tariffs on several U.S.-origin products, including alcohol and tobacco products and cars.
Halkbank case result of 'FETO plot'
Moving to another thorn in Turkish-U.S. ties, Kalin said that everybody knows that Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a former executive at Turkish state-owned lender Halkbank, was unjustly imprisoned by the U.S. as the result of a “plot” by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.
Atilla was sentenced this May to 32 months in prison for violating the sanctions on Iran.
“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 said, adding that Turkey is "extremely disturbed by this process.”
Bolton’s ‘desperate’ remarks
Bolton had said that he was skeptical of Qatar’s pledge last week of $15 billion in investment support for Turkey, claiming this is “utterly insufficient to have an impact on Turkey’s economy.”
His remarks on Turkey’s economic condition and Qatar’s investment plans point to a “more desperate situation,” Kalin said.
“His statement is proof that the Trump administration is targeting a NATO ally as part of an economic war.”
Kalin also mentioned that the current U.S. administration has similar disputes with Mexico, Canada, Cuba, China, Russia, Iran, the EU, and Germany.
“The Trump administration has ... established that it intends to use trade, tariffs, and sanctions to start a global trade war,” he said.
“So, there is a global problem. The problem between Turkey and the U.S. have appeared as part of the problems that the Trump administration has with the world,” Kalin added.
“Such political, judicial and economic attitudes are at odds with the soul of the alliance. These are also against NATO’s fundamental rules.”
'Turkey will not be silent'
“Turkey has no intention of starting an economic war with any party. It cannot, however, be expected to keep silent in the face of attacks on its economy and judiciary,” he said.
Ankara will work with the rest of the world against “restrictive and punitive” approaches and protect the nation's interests in all areas, he added.
Kalin welcomed recent statements supporting Turkey, saying that they show Turkey is on the right path.
“Qatar’s pledge of $15 billions in investment in Turkey relieved the markets. We appreciate Qatar’s attitude. From now on Turkish-Qatari relations will continue to strengthen at all levels,” he said.
Stressing the importance of statements by Germany, France, Italy, Russia, China, and Iran in support of Turkey, Kalin praised the steps fighting back the attacks on the Turkish currency as effective.
The Treasury and Finance Ministry and related institutions will continue to take measures to help the economy, he added.
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