U.S. Sanctions Turkish Officials Over Pastor’s Detention

Randal Sanchez
August 2, 2018

Turkey will retaliate against a USA decision to impose sanctions on two senior ministers over the imprisonment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday. "We will get it", Soylu wrote on his official Twitter account.

Turkey and the United States were on Thursday locked in the most serious diplomatic crisis between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies in years after Washington slapped sanctions on two senior Turkish ministers and Ankara vowed to retaliate.

Washington said the two ministers were responsible for pastor Andrew Brunson's arrest and detention.

"We call on the USA administration to turn back from this wrong decision".

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

He was put under house arrest last month after two years in prison in Turkey.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke on Wednesday with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, and has plans to meet him next week to demand Brunson's freedom, the State Department said. "President Trump concluded that these sanctions are the appropriate action".

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On US sanctions over North Korea, Pompeo said it will remain in place till the country eliminates its weapons of mass destruction. These "were also official U.S. policy not long ago" because Trump's predecessor Barack Obama "personally decided so", she said.

He stands accused of carrying out activities on behalf of two organisations Ankara considers terror groups. The reference was to Turkey's request for extradition of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a onetime Erdogan ally who has lived in the United States as a permanent resident for decades, and whom Turkey charged with orchestrating a failed coup attempt in July 2016. The other is the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

His next trial hearing is due on October 12.

The measures came less than a week after President Trump promised to "impose large sanctions" on Turkey if Brunson was not immediately freed and allowed to come home, and Vice President Pence warned the Turkish government to "be prepared to face the consequences".

On Wednesday, Erdogan accused the United States of having an "evangelist, Zionist mentality" and using "threat-filled language".

The spat over the pastor has stoked tensions between the two governments, which were already quarrelling over Washington's support of a Syrian Kurdish militia.

Ankara meanwhile upset Washington by imprisoning two Turkish employees of American consulates in the country and holding another under house arrest on terror-related charges.

Anticipation of the USA sanctions had already helped to send the Turkish lira to an all-time low against the dollar on Wednesday.

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