Today: Sunday, 21 April 2024 year

Turkey hits back against US sanctions over jailed pastor

Turkey hits back against US sanctions over jailed pastor

Turkey-US relations are getting worse after Erdogan’s cabinet has imposed financial sanctions on two US cabinet officials, Financial Times said.  The escalating row over the detention of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor, on espionage charges.

The relationship between the United States and Turkey, two NATO members, has plunged to its most complicated times in decades in the wake of the violent attempted coup in 2016.  Last month, The American leader threatened Turkey with “large sanctions” over the affair, while this week, the US Treasury froze assets belonging to Abdulhamit Gul, Turkey’s justice minister, and Suleyman Soylu, the interior minister, for their alleged roles in the detention of pastor Brunson, an Evangelical preacher arrested by Turkish authorities in October 2016.

“We will freeze the American justice and interior ministers’ assets in Turkey, if there are any,”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said and added his patience had run out after the US imposed financial sanctions on two Turkish ministers Gul and Soylu over the affair. According to Turkish leader, the accusations against interior and justice ministers “made no sense” and suggested the US had tried to swap a Turkish bank executive jailed earlier this year for his role in helping Iran evade sanctions for Mr Brunson.

Andrew Brunson, a pastor who played a key role in politics

US and Turkey’s relations reached its the lowest point over pastor Brunson’s detention, but it is still not clear who the sanctions will affect. President Erdogan’s threat is a rebuff to US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who was quoted as telling reporters on Friday that “the clock had run out” for Turkey to free the 50-year-old Brunson.

Andrew Brunson spent close to two years behind bars before a court ordered him to be transferred to house arrest on health grounds in July. He is accused of participating in a conspiracy to topple Mr Erdogan in an abortive military coup in 2016, charges he denies.

Investors have dumped Turkish assets, with the lira tumbling more than 3 per cent since the US administration announced sanctions, fearful that more punitive measures are in the pipeline if Turkey digs in its heels.

Mr Erdogan has sought to draw a line between the dispute and his relationship with Mr Trump, with whom he was photographed smiling and holding hands at a Nato summit just weeks ago. He called on Mr Trump on Saturday to intervene and end the stand-off.

“Trump has been duped. We know this game. Mr Trump needs to spoil the game,”

he said.