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Trump Hits Turkish Officials with Sanctions over Pastor Brunson's Detainment

02 August 2018

"Now is the time for Turkey to begin acting like the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally that it claims to be and live up to its own constitution".

It urged Trump to reconsider the sanctions.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu tweeted, "We will not be able to resolve our problems unless the USA administration realizes that it can not reach its unlawful demands through this method".

The sanctions are being prepared under the Global Magnitsky Act of 2016, which allows the USA government to target individuals, companies or other entities involved in corruption or human-rights abuses. He was recently released to home detention.

He was moved into house arrest last month for health reasons, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this was not enough.

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The Turkish lira fell to a record low of 5.0 against the dollar after the sanctions announcement, losing more than 1.6 per cent of its value.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday that the U.S.is imposing sanctions against Turkey due to the continued imprisonment of US pastor Andrew Brunson.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the two ministers had played leading roles in Brunson's arrest. Gul responded by saying he doesn't have any interests in the U.S.

"I have neither a tree planted nor one penny in the U.S. or any other country outside of Turkey", Gul said. "Maybe I'll buy an olive grove in my hometown in Gaziantep?"

He is accused of supporting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), considered a terrorist organization by Ankara, and exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

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Ankara accuses Gulen of organising the July 2016 failed coup, claims which he denies.

Brunson's next hearing is October 12.

The upheaval over the Brunson case comes as U.S. -Turkey relations had begun to improve slowly after years of tension, mostly having to do with conflicting objectives in Syria. Turkey's state-run Haber TRT television also reported that the court had rejected the appeal.

On July 26, Trump announced in a tweet that if the Turkish government did not release Brunson, the US would impose "large" sanctions on Turkey. "Rule of law is for everyone; no exception".

Now under house arrest, Brunson faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted of all charges. And they have had lawmakers' bipartisan backing in the campaign to obtain Brunson's release.

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Despite these long-standing and significant ties - not to mention the huge potential to backfire - the Trump Administration had to deliver a message to Erdogan and the Turkish government that imprisoning Americans is not acceptable, according to Eric Edelman, former ambassador to Turkey.

Trump Hits Turkish Officials with Sanctions over Pastor Brunson's Detainment