Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Trump imposes sanctions over Turkey's detaining of minister

Trump imposes sanctions over Turkey's detaining of minister

Washington sanctioned Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu over the pastor's detention.

The two officials targeted by sanctions "played leading roles in the organizations responsible for the arrest and detention" of Brunson, the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said in a statement.

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

In the news release announcing the sanctions, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin called Brunson's detention "unjust" and "simply unacceptable".

On July 26, Trump announced in a tweet that if the Turkish government did not release Brunson, the USA would impose "large" sanctions on Turkey. While negotiations for his release were ongoing, President Donald Trump promised "large sanctions" in a tweet Wednesday.

Mr. Brunson had been jailed for about 18 months on terrorism-related charges.

The U.S. Senate previously tried to prohibit the sales of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets to Turkey, citing the purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russian Federation and detaining U.S. citizens as the reasons.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Turkish government refused to release Brunson "after numerous conversations between President Trump and President Erdogan", along with his conversations with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavosuglo.

The 50-year-old was arrested in December 2016 and later charged with links to a failed plot to overthrow the Turkish government - an accusation he denies.

The evangelical pastor, who is originally from Black Mountain, North Carolina, has lived in Turkey for 23 years and led Izmir Resurrection Church. Americans would generally be prohibited from doing business with them.

Erdogan has denied speculation that there had been an agreement to swap Brunson for Turkish citizens being held overseas, particularly 27-year-old Ebru Ozkan.

Turkey has strongly protested the United States and said it will retaliate the sanctions imposed on justice and interior ministers in the same way and without delay.

Last month, Israel released Turkish tourist Ebru Ozkan who had been arrested for alleged ties to the Palestinian group Hamas - charges that she has denied.

The Turkish leader previously connected Brunson's return to the the extradition of Fethullah Gulen.

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