Turkish minister mocks United States sanctions against him

02 August, 2018, 13:40 | Author: Kathy Ellis
  • Demiroren News Agency  AFP  File  STRAndrew Brunson spent almost two years in jail after his initial detention in October 2016

The move targeting Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu further ratcheted up tensions between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, with Ankara vowing to retaliate over the measures and what it dubbed an "aggressive attitude".

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said both men "played leading roles in the arrest and detention of Pastor Brunson". The next hearing is October 12 with the pastor facing 35 years in jail if convicted.

The sanctions are directed at Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu.

"Without delay, there will be a response to this aggressive attitude that will not serve any goal", it said.

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".

"This has gone on far too long". "President Trump concluded that these sanctions are the appropriate action".

Brunson has been charged with spying for the PKK - a designated terrorist group in the USA and Turkey - and US -based Fetullah Gulen and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the defeated July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey which martyred 251 people and injured thousands.

He stands accused of carrying out activities on behalf of two organisations Ankara considers terror groups.

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A Turkish minister has defiantly mocked US sanctions against him, saying his only asset in the United States is a USA -based Muslim cleric whom Turkey blames for a failed coup and wants extradited. The other is the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The measures came less than a week after President Trump promised to "impose large sanctions" on Turkey if Brunson was not immediately freed and allowed to come home, and Vice President Pence warned the Turkish government to "be prepared to face the consequences".

But Erdogan retorted that Turkey does not have the "slightest problem against religious minorities".

But on Wednesday he vowed Turkey would not give in to threats from the United States, accusing Washington of showing an "evangelist, Zionist mentality".

Turkey is meanwhile furious the United States has failed to extradite Gulen, who lives in rural Pennsylvania, to face trial over the coup bid.

The imposition of sanctions on the two ministers is sure to fuel the fire. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin called Brunson's detention "simply unacceptable".

Trump's executive order was used this summer to sanction people in Nicaragua deemed responsible for human rights abuses and corruption.

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

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