Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

White House Sanctions Turkey Officials Over Detention of US Pastor

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan
Lindsey Cook | 02 August, 2018, 10:56

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

If found guilty, Brunson faces up to 15 years in prison for committing crimes on behalf of terrorist groups without being a member, and up to 20 years for political or military espionage.

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.

President Trump has discussed Pastor Bruson with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "on several occassions", Sanders said in response to a reporter's question during Wednesday's White House briefing.

Trump had issued repeated calls for Brunson's release and called the pastor's detention "a total disgrace".

Brunson worked in Turkey for 23 years as a pastor before he was detained more than a year ago for an alleged connection to a failed coup against Erdoğan in 2016.

The two officials, Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu, will have their assets and properties under U.S. jurisdiction blocked and Americans will be prohibited from engaging in financial transactions with them. The sanctions against them prohibit USA citizens from doing business with both men and block any of their property that rests within American jurisdiction.

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Vice President Pence has also said the administration would impose sanctions on Turkey if Brunson was not released.

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.

The move targeting Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu further ratcheted up tensions between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, with Ankara vowing to retaliate over the measures and what it dubbed an "aggressive attitude". Pence has said that "there is no credible evidence against" Brunson. Turkey's Foreign Ministry was expected to release a statement later on Wednesday. "President Trump has made it abundantly clear that the United States expects Turkey to release him immediately". Late Saturday, Turkish media quoted Erdogan as saying that Washington "cannot make Turkey back down with sanctions".

Brunson was held for almost two years in prison on terror-related charges before he was moved last week to house arrest.

"The aggressive attitude of the USA serves no objective", it said in a statement, adding that Turkey would reciprocate "without delay".

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

The Turkish lira plummeted to a new low after the sanctions were announced.

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