Published: Sat, August 04, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Turkey to freeze assets of U.S. officials

Turkey to freeze assets of U.S. officials

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he has asked Turkish authorities to freeze the assets in Turkey of the United States ministers of "justice and interior", in response to Washington's sanctions over the detention of an American pastor. He is facing a 35-year sentence if convicted of the charges of "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member" and espionage.

After reports that the USA would sanction individuals over the case, the lira hit a record low of 5.01 against the dollar, before rallying slightly to 4.9. Despite this, the country's central bank left the key interest rate unaltered at 17.75 percent.

The former prime minister's position echoes that of the Turkish government.

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The Turkish foreign ministry warned that the move "will greatly damage constructive efforts" to solve outstanding issues and told Washington it would retaliate.

"We've seen no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong and we believe he is a victim of unfair and unjust detention by the government of Turkey", White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emphasized to reporters Wednesday.

Erdogan called on citizens to change foreign currencies and golds into Turkish lira. "But without more visible steps to de-escalate, the medium- to longer-term path for the lira would be weakness again", said Inan Demir, senior emerging market economist at Nomura.

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Pastor Andrew Brunson has been held for almost two years over alleged links to Erdogan's political rivals.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday unveiled first 100-day action plan of Turkey's new presidential Cabinet in the capital Ankara.

Those conflicts include the arrests of USA citizens as well as local consular staff, US senators pushing to block the delivery of American F-35 jets following Turkey's pledge to buy the Russian S-400 missile system, and Turkey's demand that Fethullah Gulen, a US -based cleric blamed for a failed coup attempt, be extradited to stand trial. On Tuesday, a court rejected his appeal to be released from house arrest during his trial on terrorism charges. The attorney general heads the Justice Department in the United States. Gulen denies the allegations. Pence, who has close ties to the evangelical Christian community, has been following proceedings since Brunson was arrested and pressing behind the scenes for action, aides said. He was also charged with supporting outlawed PKK Kurdish militants.

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