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Erdogan Slams 'Evangelist' US as Pastor's Detention Roils Ties

Erdogan Slams 'Evangelist' US as Pastor's Detention Roils Ties

The U.S. Treasury announced sanctions against Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu for the "unfair and unjust detention" of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

Mr Brunson has denied charges of espionage, but faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.

The court in the Aegean region of Izmir rejected an appeal by the lawyer for Andrew Brunson, who ran a Protestant church, to have him released from house arrest and have his travel ban removed, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

Brunson was recently moved from Turkish prison to house arrest.

"We join with our coalition partners - In Defense of Christians and the Hellenic American Leadership Council - in welcoming the Administration's launch of a sanctions regime against Turkey", said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America. Pence has said that "there is no credible evidence against" Brunson.

One proposed bill would restrict loans from worldwide financial institutions to Turkey until Ankara stops the "arbitrary arrest and detention" of U.S. citizens and consular staff. Language that calls for the release of Mr Brunson and others has also been included in a defence authorisation bill.

In this case, the Treasury Department showed greater creativity in the use of financial sanctions to target just two senior officials - one of whom said on Twitter he had no USA holdings - in order to send a clear message to a foreign ally. And during a press briefing Tuesday, she noted that Brunson is not the only detained individual they're seeking to get released: She says the State Department has also been advocating on behalf of several locally hired personnel who were also swept up in the arrests after the attempted coup.

USA officials, for their part, show no inclination to accede to their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally's demand, either.

A Foreign Ministry statement issued Wednesday said Turkey "strongly protests" the U.S. Treasury's decision to impose sanctions against Turkey's justice and interior ministers. "We will never tolerate threats from anybody", Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu posted on Twitter on Thursday after Trump's statement.

The U.S. has prepared a list of Turkish entities and individuals that it will target should it decide to impose sanctions on Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government for imprisoning U.S. citizens and employees of its diplomatic mission, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

"Clearly the goal is to send a message to those involved, and as with most sanctions, to increase the perception of a risk premium on Turkey", Ziemba said. Turkey accuses the evangelical pastor of having ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party and to exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of masterminding the failed 2016 military coup.

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