Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Money | By Michele Stevens

USA sanctioning Turkish officials over detention of American pastor - White House

USA sanctioning Turkish officials over detention of American pastor - White House

The sanctions are modeled on those targeting the Russian government and oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin, the people said, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

On July 26, Trump announced in a tweet that if the Turkish government did not release Brunson, the US would impose "large" sanctions on Turkey. It said Turkey would "respond in kind without delay" against what it described as an aggressive stance by the United States.

The administration said the two sanctioned officials - Turkey's Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu - both played leading roles in the organizations responsible for Brunson's arrest and detention.

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.

But the move stoked tensions rather than defusing the crisis, with U.S. media reports accusing Turkey of reneging on a deal to free him, which Ankara has denied.

Last week, Turkey dismissed warnings of sanctions from Trump and Pence.

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Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who serves on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said in a statement: "The president is not acting alone".

He wrote: "A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected US Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison".

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

Brunson's supporters maintain that the charges against him were fabricated.

While negotiations to release one of the people, evangelical Pastor Andrew Brunson, are ongoing, the preparation of the so-called "designation packages" shows how close the US has come to imposing unprecedented penalties against a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

Pompeo said Trump had decided that sanctions were "the appropriate action".

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Brunson was accused of helping supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the US -based cleric who Turkish authorities say masterminded the 2016 coup attempt against President Tayyip Erdogan in which 250 people were killed.

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

"We are still pursuing a diplomatic approach".

The Treasury accuses Gul and Soylu of serious human rights violations.

The upheaval over the Brunson case comes as U.S. -Turkey relations had begun to improve slowly after years of tension, mostly having to do with conflicting objectives in Syria.

Last week, Ankara rebuked Trump's threats, which had been echoed by his Vice President Mike Pence.

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