Filmed by Donell Newkirk and produced by Ben Marino. Footage by Reuters
Pastor Brunson is the character at the centre of this escalating spat which threatens to derail a Nato alliance. He is an evangelical Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for years and was arrested in October 2016 on charges of espionage and terrorism. Now, he disputes those charges. But his arrest came in the wake of an attempted coup.
Turkey blames the US for holding the man that they think is responsible for that coup. The US side they very much saw Pastor Bronson's detention as part of a sort of tit-for-tat hostage situation, something akin to that at least, and that he was absolutely blameless. It's not clear who Pastor Brunson has met, but certainly he denies the charges. And just a few weeks ago, he was let out of jail after two years in jail on health grounds and released into house arrest.
It's been an extraordinary few weeks since Pastor Bronson was let out of jail. And if you look at the time line, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo actually greeted this move as progress. And we certainly know that a huge amount had been going on behind the scenes to secure his release.
And in a matter of moments, that sign of incremental progress utterly changed when President Trump said this is simply unacceptable. You must release him fully. And we will levy sanctions on you if you don't. And sure enough, Trump followed through on his threat. Sanctions came on aluminium, on steel. He doubled them both. On steel imports, they now stand at 50%. The US slapped sanctions on the interior minister and the justice minister of Turkey. So extremely personal and painful economic and humiliating diplomatic sanctions.
This is an extraordinary shift for what is a Nato alliance. Turkey is a member of Nato. It's been allies with the US for something like 60 years. Potentially, Turkey houses US nuclear weapons on its own soil, although that's never officially admitted. And Turkey is a member of the F-35, the US flagship stealth fighter jet that is going to be produced in a number of thousands. And Turkey is a key participant in the production of those jets, not just for the jets that Turkey's buying - Turkey is buying a hundred of its own, but actually across the entire fleet. So a huge number of things are suddenly in the balance. And it's gone very, very quickly down the slippery slope.
From the people I speak to, what I understand is there's been a huge level of miscommunication. The deal that Trump thought had been struck, in fact, hadn't been fully struck. There have been multiple efforts at back channel communications. But, really, what's gone wrong is a miscommunication followed by a flare up. And finding an exit now to ramp down is looking quite tricky just at this moment.