U.S. Issues Sanctions Against Turkey Over Detention of American Pastor

U.S. Issues Sanctions Against Turkey Over Detention of American Pastor

The United States imposed sanctions on Turkey's Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu on Wednesday over the continued detention of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson who is being held for alleged links with the 2016 failed coup plotters.

And on Wednesday the Treasury Department laid blame for his ongoing trial primarily with Abdulhamit Gul, Turkey's justice minister, and Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu. The State Department has said they're being held as hostages for the objective of extracting concessions on other points of contention in the Turkey-U.S. relationship.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused his American counterpart of waging "psychological warfare" against Turkey over the pastor and warned that the USA may lose "a strong and honest ally" in Turkey.

The Turkish currency dropped to an all-time low against the dollar following the announcement of the sanctions, trading at just over 5 lira against the dollar. After Turkey refused to agree to a request from the United States that Brunson be released, the US slapped sanctions on two Turkish officials.

"Pastor Brunson's unjust detention and continued prosecution by Turkish officials is simply unacceptable", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

"President Trump concluded that these sanctions are the appropriate action", he said.

Pastor Andrew Brunson, a North Carolina native who was pastor of a Presbyterian church in Turkey, was arrested in 2016. "President Trump has made it abundantly clear that the United States expects Turkey to release him immediately".

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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday that the U.S.is imposing sanctions against Turkey due to the continued imprisonment of US pastor Andrew Brunson.

Andrew Craig Brunson, seen flanked by two Turkish police officers in plainclothes in Izmir last week. "I don't have any assets or money in the U.S. nor in any other countries". Now under house arrest, Brunson faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

Relations between Turkey and the United States have been tense over multiple issues including American support for a Syrian Kurdish militia who Turkey claims are terrorists as well as the failure to extradite US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

"No one dictates Turkey".

Last month, Israel released Turkish tourist Ebru Ozkan who had been arrested for alleged ties to the Palestinian group Hamas - charges that she has denied.

On Tuesday, Turkish government spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara would retaliate against any US sanctions and hoped the conflict could be resolved during a meeting between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Cavusoglu later this week. "We will not step back".

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