WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s administration moved Wednesday to put economic sanctions on officials in Turkey over the imprisonment of American pastor Andrew Brunson.
“Pastor Brunson’s unjust detention and continued prosecution by Turkish officials is simply unacceptable,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “President Trump has made it abundantly clear that the United States expects Turkey to release him immediately.”
The sanctions target Turkey’s Minister of Justice, Abdulhamit Gul, and Minister of Interior, Suleyman Soylu.
“Any property or interest in property of both ministers within U.S. jurisdiction is blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
Turkey accuses Brunson, arrested in 2016, of being a spy and says he was involved in an attempted coup against the government. The United States says he has been falsely accused.
Sanders said Trump has discussed the Brunson case with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and is dissatisfied with Turkey’s lack of response.
Erdogan has said he has no plans to release Brunson, and dismissed U.S. threats of sanctions.
“We will not give any credit to this type of threatening language,” Erdogan told reporters Wednesday in Ankara. “It is not possible for us to accept that America gets up, especially with an evangelist, Zionist mentality, and uses this kind of threat-filled language.”
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