USA sanctioning Turkish officials over detention of American pastor - White House

Turkey rejects US pastor Andrew Brunson's appeal, shrugs off Donald Trump sanctions threat

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

And on Wednesday the Treasury Department laid blame for his ongoing trial primarily with Abdulhamit Gul, Turkey's justice minister, and Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

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.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey will not bow to threats fueled by an "evangelist and Zionist mentality" in the USA, as the diplomatic crisis between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members over the fate of a detained American pastor showed no signs of abating.

While Kurdish forces have been close allies to US forces fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the USA considers the Turkish Kurdish group known as the PKK to be a terrorist organization.

"Pastor Brunson's unjust detention and continued prosecution by Turkish officials is simply unacceptable", said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

As a result of the sanctions, USA persons can't engage in transactions with either man and any property of theirs within US jurisdiction is blocked.

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Mr Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty of the charges, which he denies.

Brunson was arrested in Izmir, Turkey, in October 2016 and accused of espionage and aiding terrorist organizations.

Nato Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Curtis Scaparrotti arrived in Turkey on Wednesday for a visit aimed at easing tensions between Ankara and Washington as relations soured over the case of a U.S. pastor jailed in Turkey on terrorism charges. Relations between the United States and Turkey have plummeted over Brunson, who was in custody for 21 months in a Turkish prison until he was transferred to house arrest last week.

Brunson worked in Turkey for 23 years as a pastor before he was detained more than a year ago for an alleged connection to a failed coup against Erdoğan in 2016.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevut Cavusoglu claimed on Wednesday the extraordinary use of financial sanctions against Ankara, which is a USA allied government, would not be left without retaliation as it constitutes a "hostile stance".

Bloomberg reported that a deal to secure Brunson's release had collapsed in the lead-up to today's sanctions.

The Trump administration on Wednesday sanctioned top Turkish officials over the country's detention of American pastor Andrew Craig Brunson.

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