I wrote my first article on the imprisonment of American Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey more than 20 months ago. In the more than a year and a half that’s passed since then, there has been virtually no good news regarding Brunson’s prospects for the future. Despite numerous pleas and campaigns from many allied nations and Christians around the world, the Tyrant of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly refused to listen to reason. Then, this weekend, for one brief moment it seemed as if things were about to change. Turkey put an offer on the table to release Pastor Brunson and allow him to return home.

The White House refused the offer almost immediately. That may come as a disappointment to many, but even I have to agree with their reasons. This was no diplomatic exchange or goodwill gesture. Turkey was looking for us to pay a ransom for him and it was a huge one. (CNN)

The White House rejected Turkey’s offer to release an American pastor in exchange for forgiveness of billions of dollars in US fines on a Turkish bank, expressing that other matters would be considered only after Andrew Brunson is released, a senior administration official told The Wall Street Journal.

The rejection could lead to the US imposing additional sanctions against Turkey sometime this week, the Journal reported. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the United States is willing to do so if Brunson isn’t released.

“A real NATO ally wouldn’t have arrested Brunson in the first place,” the senior White House official told the Journal, referencing how Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

We don’t pay ransoms for hostages because of the precedent it would set. (Or at least we usually don’t, though there were some questionable dealings with Iran during the last administration.) But there may be reason for increased hope in this news after all. If Erdogan is willing to talk money, that means that the sanctions are working. Turkey’s currency is collapsing and their businesses are floundering under international pressure. The willingness to offer a deal means that Erdogan’s mind has opened to the idea of releasing the Pastor. If pressure continues, he may be willing to simply release him in the hopes of the White House carrying through and easing some of the pressure on them.

Also, keep in mind that all of his is unfolding just as tensions between our two nations have been reaching dangerous levels. Just this weekend someone shot up the U.S. embassy in Turkey. Fortunately, the office was closed for Eid al-Adha and nobody was hurt. Amazingly (/sarc), the Turks haven’t managed to identify or capture a suspect in the shooting yet. (Associated Press)

Unknown attackers fired shots at a security booth outside the U.S. Embassy in Turkey’s capital early Monday, but U.S. officials said no one was hurt.

Ankara governor’s office said six shots were fired from a moving white car towards the embassy compound at 5:30 am (2:30 GMT). Three of the bullets hit the gate and a window.

The statement said the investigation was ongoing and the suspect or suspects have not yet been identified.

Erdogan is no longer an ally in any real sense of the word and deserves little in the way of respect from his NATO “partners.” If he truly wants to normalize relations and stop the slide of his nation toward tyranny, releasing the Pastor with no strings attached would be a good start.