WASHINGTON, July 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. State Department said on Friday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier talked with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu over the release of a detained U.S. pastor.
According to a statement released by State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, Pompeo spoke on Thursday with Cavusoglu, when Pompeo "underscored that it is well past time for this innocent Pastor Andrew Brunson to come home."
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday that the United States will slap "significant economic sanctions" on Turkey unless it immediately releases Brunson.
In response, Cavusoglu tweeted later that Turkey will never tolerate threats from anybody, noting "no one dictates Turkey. We will never tolerate threats from anybody. Rule of law is for everyone, no exception."
Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin also said that "threatening language is unacceptable," and the United States shall "adopt a constructive position."
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay joined the chorus, identifying Washington's move as "cheap threat."
Brunson, a 50-year-old Christian pastor, was detained two years ago on spying charges, faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty.
He was indicted on charges of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETO), which Turkey accuses of being behind a coup attempt in 2016.
A Turkish court ruled for continuation of Brunson's detention on July 18, but the same court ruled on Wednesday to move Brunson from prison to house arrest citing a "health excuse." However, he was not allowed to leave the country.
The Brunson case has been a sensitive issue between Washington and Ankara, causing serious congressional interventions against Turkey.