Trump Hits Turkish Officials with Sanctions over Pastor Brunson's Detainment


The White House announced on Wednesday that it was imposing sanctions on two top members of the Turkish government over a USA pastor who is being held for spying and terror-related charges.

Under the sanctions to be imposed by the Treasury Department, any property, or interest in property, belonging to Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul or Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu within USA jurisdiction would be blocked.

But the spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, also said Turkey expects the two countries to resolve their differences through diplomacy and that foreign ministers from each side were planning to hold talks, Reuters reported.

In a statement announcing the sanctions, the US Department of the Treasury said Gul and Soylu are the leaders of organisations that have engaged in "serious human rights abuse".

-Turkish relations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said his government wouldn't back down and was willing to "go its own way" if the USA did act.

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The decision comes days after Turkey's president said the country would not back down if the United States imposes sanctions in the mounting diplomatic dispute over the evangelical pastor from North Carolina.

"President Trump concluded that these sanctions are the appropriate action", he said. Turkey released him from prison on house arrest last week.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the sanctions would target Turkey's justice and interior ministers, whose agencies she said were responsible for the pastor's arrest and detention.

But they are not altogether unexpected: Both President Trump and Vice President Pence have both lately threatened retaliation over the status of Andrew Brunson, whom Turkish authorities detained in October 2016. "I don't have any assets or money in the U.S. nor in any other countries".

Mr. Brunson had been jailed for about 18 months on terrorism-related charges.

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Erdogan says he never used Brunson as a bargaining chip, although he previously linked Brunson's return to the US extradition of cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara holds responsible for the failed coup.

The pastor, who is originally from Black Mountain, N.C., has lived in Turkey for 23 years and led Izmir Resurrection Church.

Andrew Craig Brunson, seen flanked by two Turkish police officers in plainclothes in Izmir last week.

"No one dictates to Turkey".

Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures" that Brunson's release to house arrest "is just not good enough".

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The move failed to secure Brunson's release.