Turkish minister reacts to USA sanctions move by 'property' remark

Turkish minister reacts to USA sanctions move by 'property' remark

Ankara on Wednesday threatened to retaliate after Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey's justice and interior ministers over the case of an American pastor as it warned the actions could damage ties.

The United States has blamed both for being involved in Brunson's arrest and detention.

Brunson is an evangelical pastor from North Carolina who was arrested by Turkish authorities in 2016 after the failed coup attempt. He faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted.

Two Turkish employees of U.S. consulates in Turkey are also now in jail on terror charges and another is under house arrest, while several Americans have been caught up in the crackdown that followed the failed coup.

In a briefing for reporters after the sanctions were announced, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump was "not happy with Turkey's decision not to release Pastor Brunson" and had directed the Treasury Department to impose the measures. Pompeo and Cavusoglu spoke by phone about Brunson's detention earlier Wednesday and are expected to meet on the margins of the meeting of the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this week in Singapore, she said. A U.S. Treasury Department press release said the officials "serve as leaders of Turkish government organizations responsible for implementing Turkey's serious human rights abuses".

Turkish Foreign Ministry on Wednesday strongly protested against U.S. Treasury Department's decision, calling on the U.S. administration to reverse its "wrong decision".

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He is accused of acting on behalf of two groups deemed by Turkey to be terrorist organisations - the movement led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen who Ankara says was behind the 2016 coup bid and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"We call on the USA. administration to walk back from this wrong decision", a statement by the Turkish foreign ministry said, calling Washington's action a "hostile stance". "President Trump concluded that these sanctions are the appropriate action". Vice President Mike Pence urged Turkey to release Brunson or face consequences.

Brunson is one of tens of thousands of people - several of them Americans - detained on similar charges during the state of emergency declared by Erdogan in the wake of the 2016 failed coup bid.

The imposition of sanctions on the two ministers is sure to fuel the fire.

The sanctions rattled financial markets with the Turkish lira hitting five to the dollar for the first time in history.

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