ISTANBUL (AP) -- Turkey's president says country will not back down if the United States imposes sanctions in a diplomatic dispute involving an arrested American pastor.
Speaking privately to journalists late Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan broke his silence on the crisis: "They cannot make Turkey back down with sanctions."
On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced possible sanctions against Turkey, a crucial NATO ally, in retaliation for the treatment of Andrew Craig Brunson, who was detained in the aftermath of a failed 2016 coup against Turkey's government.
Brunson denies the charges.
Erdogan claimed that he "never used Brunson as a bargaining chip" — but he had previously linked Brunson's return to the U.S. extradition of cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara holds responsible for the failed coup. Gulen denies involvement in the coup attempt.