Trump to impose sanctions over Turkey's detaining of pastor

Fredrick Soto
August 2, 2018

The court had last week ordered that Brunson, who had spent nearly two years in jail after his initial detention in October 2016, be moved from jail to house arrest at his home in Izmir. Turkey has waged a two-year effort to have Gulen extradited from the United States.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the men had played leading roles in Brunson's 2016 arrest and detention.

Earlier Wednesday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed his country would not give in to threats from the United States over Brunson and accused Washington of showing an "evangelist, Zionist mentality".

Mr Brunson is accused of aiding plotters of an attempted coup in 2016.

The sanctions will freeze the USA assets of Turkey's minister of justice, Abdulhamit Gul, and its minister of interior, Suleyman Soylu.

As a result of the sanctions, US persons can't engage in transactions with either man and any property of theirs within USA jurisdiction is blocked.

The sanctions are being prepared under the Global Magnitsky Act of 2016, which allows the US government to target individuals, companies or other entities involved in corruption or human-rights abuses anywhere in the world.

Vice President Mike Pence, who like Brunson is an evangelical Christian, has declared him "a victim of religious persecution".

Over the course of 18 months, President Donald Trump has shown he's willing to use American economic might in ways his predecessors were too cautious - or too prudent - to risk.

Ankara had the right to seek arbitration if Washington blocks delivery of F-35 jets to Turkey, Kalin said.

The US has maintained that there is no credible evidence to support the charges brought against Brunson.

The Trump administration levied sanctions against two top Turkish government officials Wednesday, fulfilling its pledge to punish Turkey for not releasing a detained American pastor and sending relations between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to a new low.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert has also called the detention "unjust", adding, "Turkey knows our position well".

"President Trump concluded that these sanctions are the appropriate action", Pompeo said in a statement.

The lira, Turkey's currency, fell to record lows amid signs of possible sanctions.

Last week, Brunson was allowed to leave prison and remain under house arrest, but his request to leave Turkey was denied.

The upheaval over the Brunson case comes as U.S. -Turkey relations had begun to improve slowly after years of tension, mostly having to do with conflicting objectives in Syria.

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