Trump slaps Turkish ministers with sanctions over detention of U.S. pastor

Trump slaps Turkish ministers with sanctions over detention of U.S. pastor

Andrew Craig Brunson, seen flanked by two Turkish police officers in plainclothes in Izmir last week.

The U.S. will impose sanctions on two Turkish officials over a detained American pastor who is being tried on espionage and terror-related charges, the White House announced Wednesday.

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

Tensions rise between Turkey and the U.S. over Andrew Craig Brunson, who was charged by a Turkish court with committing crimes, including spying for terrorist groups.

United States pastor Andrew Brunson (C) is released from jail and will be put under house arrest during the duration of his trial, at Aliaga Prison in Izmir, Turkey.

Mr Brunson has been in a Turkish jail since October 2016 for allegedly being a threat to national security.

Gul and Soylu, she said, "played leading roles in the arrest and detention" of Brunson. The sanctions effectively block any property or interest in property controlled by them in the US, and bar Americans from engaging in transactions with them.

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 USA has come to imposing unprecedented penalties against a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

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One proposed bill would restrict loans from global financial institutions to Turkey until Ankara stops the "arbitrary arrest and detention" of USA citizens and consular staff. Language that calls for the release of Brunson and others has also been included in a defense authorization bill. On Wednesday, he went further than many might have imagined he ever would.

"We call upon the USA administration to go back on this wrong decision".

Turkey suspects the pastor has ties to the organisers of the 2016 coup in July to try to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"You have a pastor too", Erdogan said then". "We will not step back".

It added that it was the right of the executive body, or presidency, to give the necessary response to the USA based on the principle of worldwide reciprocity.

The move failed to secure Brunson's release.

White House officials accused Erdogan of reneging on the secret agreement and attempting to use Brunson as a "bargaining chip" to win concessions. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said in a statement applauding the sanctions Wednesday.

Turkey issued a written statement to "protest" the new sanctions.

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