Trump imposes sanctions over Turkey's detaining of minister

02 August, 2018, 01:29 | Author: Mary Valdez
  • Turkey rejects US pastor Andrew Brunson's appeal, shrugs off Donald Trump sanctions threat

The US has imposed sanctions on Turkey's justice and interior ministers over the continued detention of pastor Andrew Brunson.

Aaron Stein a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, told The National that the new sanctions "are obviously a big deal, but these seem calibrated to try and limit damage to the Turkish economy, while still making a point".

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the Trump administration would sanction Turkey's minister of justice and minister of interior over the holding of 50-year-old Andrew Craig Brunson.

Brunson risks up to 35 years in jail if convicted of carrying out activities on behalf of two organisations Turkey deems to be terror groups: the Gulen movement and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Brunson's detention has deepened a rift between Washington and Ankara, which are also at odds over the Syrian war, Turkey's plan to buy a missile defense system from Russian Federation, and planned USA sanctions on Iran - which supplies fuel to Turkey.

He added, "President Trump has made it abundantly clear that the United States expects Turkey to release him immediately".

Under the sanctions to be imposed by the Treasury Department, any property, or interest in property, belonging to Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul or Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu within US jurisdiction would be blocked. Pompeo and Cavusoglu spoke by phone about Brunson's detention earlier Wednesday and are expected to meet on the margins of the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting this week in Singapore, she said.

The Turkish lira, which has been in decline against the dollar for most of 2018, fell to a record low of five per dollar on Wednesday after dropping 1.7 percent of its value following the sanctions' announcement.

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The evangelical pastor, who is originally from Black Mountain, North Carolina, has lived in Turkey for 23 years and led Izmir Resurrection Church.

His supporters claim that he's a political prisoner being held as a bargaining chip by Turkey, which is seeking the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric blamed for a failed coup.

Erdogan has also warned that Turkey would seek global arbitration if the United States refused to deliver F-35 fighter jets in retaliation.

While negotiations for his release were ongoing, President Donald Trump promised "large sanctions" in a tweet Wednesday.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Trump asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a 14 July phone call to let Ozkan go in a "trade" for Brunson, who has spent 21 months in Turkish detention.

The move failed to secure Brunson's release.

"Give him [Gulen] to us, and we will try [Brunson] and give him back", Erdogan said in September.

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