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Turkey denies American pastor's appeal, decides to hit the US with tariffs instead

On Wednesday, Turkey rejected pastor Andrew Craig Brunson's appeal to be released from custody, and slapped additional tariffs on U.S. imports. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

A Turkish court on Wednesday denied an appeal from pastor Andrew Brunson to be released from house arrest. The same day, the country's government announced that it would hit U.S. imports with a new round of tariffs.

Who is pastor Brunson?

Brunson, a North Carolina native, was the pastor of a Presbyterian church in Turkey. Turkish authorities arrested him in 2016 and charged him with being involved in a failed coup that same year against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and with colluding with Kurdish militants. Brunson has denied both charges, which his supporters say are fabricated.

The pastor is currently being held under house arrest. If the Turkish government does not eventually agree to U.S. demands and release him early, Brunson could spend 35 years in prison.

The local court in Izmir rejected Brunson's appeal to be released while his trial is pending. Brunson's lawyer told CBS News that a higher court was still considering the appeal and could overrule that decision.

What are the new sanctions?

The Turkish government doubled its tariffs on imports of American cars and alcoholic beverages to 120 and 140 percent, respectively, CNN reported. Coal, fruit, rice, and other U.S. products will also be hit by higher tariffs.

Vice President Fuat Oktay tweeted that the new tariffs were retaliation for "the deliberate attack of the U.S. administration on our economy," CNN said.

This comes a day after Turkish business groups begged Erdogan to make amends with the United States.

In June, Turkey imposed tariffs on $267 million worth of U.S. imports including walnuts, coal, tobacco, whiskey, and automobiles. This was in reaction to the global 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports and 25 percent tariff on steel imports imposed by the Trump administration in March.

In July, the U.S. doubled its tariffs on imports of Turkish steel and aluminum, and slapped stiff sanctions on Turkish government officials in response to the Turkish government's refusal to release Brunson.

The Turkish unit of currency, the lira, has been rapidly dropping in value. After falling 42 percent, the lira has regained some ground and reached 6.2 lira per dollar. In 2014, the value was roughly two lira per dollar.

One last thing…
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