(CNSNews.com) – The Trump administration’s decision to impose sanctions on Turkey because it is holding a U.S. pastor, allegedly for anti-government activity, shows that President Trump “puts Americans and the first freedom first,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.
“The administration’s sanctions are sending an unequivocal message that America will no longer abandon Americans who are wrongfully detained abroad,” said Perkins in an Aug. 1 press release.
Perkins applauded Trump’s consistency on religious freedom issues arguing that “President Trump is again keeping his word,” adding that, “President Trump warned Turkish President Erdogan sanctions would be imposed if Turkey did not immediately release Pastor Brunson.”
“Now is the time for Turkey to begin acting like the NATO ally that it claims to be and live up to its own constitution,” said Perkins. “Release Pastor Brunson now.”
Perkins comments came as the Trump administration officially announced on Thursday that it would impose sanctions on the Republic of Turkey over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson.
"We've seen no evidence that pastor Brunson has done anything wrong and we believe he is a victim of unfair and unjust attention by the government of Turkey," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday.
Trump also weighed in on the issue last week on Twitter, saying, “The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their longtime detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson.”
Brunson is “a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being. He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately,” added Trump.
Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip said Tuesday that Ankara will retaliate against U.S. sanctions.
“We strongly protest the U.S. Treasury Department's decision to sanction our country,” said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement.
There is no doubt that the decision “disrespectfully intervenes with our judicial system,” said the release.
“We call upon the U.S. administration to go back on this wrong decision. An equivalent response to this aggressive attitude will be given without delay,” concluded the foreign ministry.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also addressed the issue, stating, "The Turkish government refused to release Pastor Brunson after numerous conversations between President Trump and President Erdogan, and my conversations with Foreign Minister Cavusoglu. President Trump concluded that these sanctions are the appropriate action."