Turkish courts release detainees but reject United States pastor's appeal

Qatar has close ties with Turkey whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seen here being welcomed by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha

The Turkish government doubled its tariffs on imports of American cars and alcoholic beverages to 120 and 140 percent, respectively, CNN reported.

The White House called the Turkish response a step in the wrong direction and signaled a hard line on Brunson's release.

Washington has imposed sanctions on Ankara over the detention of an American pastor, Andrew Brunson. The currency has lost almost 40 per cent against the dollar this year, impacted by Mr Erdogan's growing influence on the economy and his repeated calls for lower interest rates despite high inflation.

The Turkish lira is rebounding after Qatar pledged US$15 billion in investments to help Turkey's economy.

Following the announcement, the lira firmed briefly to 5.8699 from 6.04 to the US dollar, but later eased back to 6.0200 at 1538 GMT.

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter that the tariffs on certain products were increased "within the framework of the principle of reciprocity in retaliation for the conscious economic attacks by the United States".

'If (the United States) have the iPhone, there's Samsung on the other side, ' he said, referring to U.S. giant Apple's iconic phone and the top South Korean brand.

The lira, which has weakened 40 percent against the dollar this year, hit a record low of 7.24 at the start of this week but it eased to 5.98 by 0443 GMT from a close of 5.95 after the central bank took liquidity measures and curbed selling of the currency. Turkey's exports to the United States a year ago amounted to $8.7 billion, making it Turkey's fifth-largest export market.

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If Brunson is not released, the next escalatory measure by the United States would most likely be targeted sanctions on businesspeople with close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. "These are appeals that require fast decision making because they are related to an individual's freedoms", Brunson's attorney Ismail Cem Halavurt told Reuters.

Washington warned more economic pressures may be in store for Turkey if it refuses to release Brunson, a White House official said on August 15. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders that Washington will withdraw sanctions on Turkey if Brunson was set free.

Erdogan has repeatedly described the crisis as an "economic war" that Turkey will win.

The tit-for-tat tariffs came amid Turkey's rejection of a USA demand that it release American pastor Andrew Brunson, detained on espionage and terrorism-related charges.

In recent days, Qatari supporters of Turkey have begun a public campaign in Doha to change their riyals into lira in an attempt to shore up the plunging Turkish currency.

Three big companies operating in Dogubank, a trade centre specializing in the sales of electronic products in central Istanbul, suspended $50 million worth of iPhone orders, the Turkish daily said.

"Rates have gone up by 10 percent".

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