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Trump administration sanctions Turkish officials over detained American pastor

02 August, 2018, 10:55 | Author: Melinda Barton
  • American pastor Andrew Craig Brunson right escorted by Turkish plainclothes officers arrives at his house in Izmir Turkey

Turkey has waged a two-year effort to have Gulen extradited from the United States.

Brunson risks up to 35 years in jail over charges that he acted on behalf of two groups viewed as terrorists by Ankara: the movement led by Gulen and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The sanctions imposed Wednesday target Turkey's Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu, whom the U.S. Treasury Department claims both played leading roles in the organizations that unjustly detained Brunson.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his government won't back down and may "go its own way" if the USA imposes sanctions.

President Trump called Brunson an "innocent man of faith" who "should be released immediately", noting that the missionary pastor is "suffering greatly".

The U.S. Treasury announced sanctions Wednesday against the Turkish government in response to the detention of an American minister there. The sanctions against them prohibit USA citizens from doing business with both men and block any of their property that rests within American jurisdiction. The move angered officials in the Trump Administration, particularly Vice President Mike Pence, who believed he should have been released.

U.S. President Donald Trump has raised the case directly with Erdogan, Sanders said.


"Now is the time for Turkey to begin acting like the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally that it claims to be and live up to its own constitution".

Brunson denies the charges while USA officials have repeatedly stressed that Brunson is innocent.

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".

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. Turkey released him from prison on house arrest last week.

Turkey is calling on the United States to reverse its decision to sanction two Turkish government ministers over a detained American pastor and is threatening to retaliate "without delay".

Trump's executive order was used this summer to sanction people in Nicaragua deemed responsible for human rights abuses and corruption.

On all those issues, Turkey has worked at cross purposes with the United States in recent years and is only more likely to become an irritant more than an ally after the sanctions escalation.

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