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Ankara says will take counter measures if US bans F35 purchase

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A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson has said Ankara will have to take counter measures if the US removes Turkey from its F-35 program, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.

A US Senate committee passed its version of a $716 billion defense policy bill on Thursday, including a measure to prevent Turkey from purchasing Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets over its detention of US citizen Andrew Brunson and its agreement with Russia in December to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries, Reuters reported.

Recalling that Turkey has fulfilled all its responsibilities stemming from the F-35 program, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said: “These kinds of steps are against to the soul of our allied relations with the US. As our minister [Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu] said, if these kinds of steps are taken, we will have to respond.”

The pastor of a small Protestant church in the western city of İzmir, Brunson was detained in October 2016 on immigration charges and was described in April by US President Donald Trump as a “fine gentleman and Christian leader in the United States.”

Brunson is charged with allegedly perpetrating crimes in the name of the faith-based Gülen movement and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as well as obtaining state secrets for political or military espionage. He faces two sentences of 15 and 20 years in prison.

Sixty-six US senators signed a letter released in April urging Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to free an American pastor.

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