U.S. Hits Turkey With Sanctions Over Jailed Pastor

Talk Turkey Erdogan suggests adding ‘T’ to BRICS

Pastor Brunson, an evangelical from North Carolina, was arrested in Izmir, Turkey in October 2016, and was accused without any evidence of helping terrorist groups and of espionage.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the United States. has grown exhausted of waiting for Turkish action on the matter.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders called Brunson's detention "unfair", saying that Trump had spoken with Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the pastor.

Earlier Wednesday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed his country would not give in to threats from the U.S. over Brunson and accused Washington of showing an "evangelist, Zionist mentality".

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a plane to southeast Asia, phoned Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday to push the Turkish government to release Brunson, other U.S. citizens, and U.S. Embassy locally employed staff jailed in Turkey.

He is also charged with ties to the movement of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen whom Erdogan blames for the failed coup.

Wednesday's measures block the two ministers' assets in the USA and prohibits American citizens from "engaging in transactions with them".

Last week, Turkey dismissed warnings of sanctions from Trump and Pence.

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But the move stoked tensions rather than defusing the crisis, with USA media reports accusing Turkey of reneging on a deal to free him, which Ankara has denied.

Analysts say relations between the United States and Turkey have come under increasing strain in the past two years over the US role in Syria and Turkey's stronger ties with Russian Federation.

Last week, Brunson was allowed to leave prison and remain under house arrest, but his request to leave Turkey was denied.

US officials have repeatedly said that Brunson is innocent and demanded his release.

Pompeo said Trump had decided that sanctions were "the appropriate action".

Indeed, the Turkish currency slid to a record low after the White House announced the sanctions.

"There is no doubt that the decision, which disrespectfully intervenes with our judicial system, stands in contrast to the essence of our relations and will seriously damage the constructive efforts made in order to resolve problems between the two countries", the ministry added. The pastor has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years.

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