Turkey retaliates with sanctions on US officials

Turkey retaliates with sanctions on US officials
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Turkey's government retaliated against a set of U.S. sanctions on Saturday with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatening comparative measures against two U.S. officials.

The threat follows a move from the Treasury Department on Thursday to sanction two Turkish officials, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, over the country’s refusal to release a jailed U.S. pastor.

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The Associated Press reports that Erdoğan accused the U.S. of “serious disrespect toward Turkey” during remarks in Ankara, and accused the Trump administration of hypocrisy over the pastor's detention.

Erdoğan also called for Turkey to “freeze the assets of America’s justice and interior ministers in Turkey, if there are any," though it was unclear which Cabinet officials that would affect, due to differing roles between the two nations' leadership teams.

It's also unclear whether any Trump Cabinet officials have assets in Turkey.

The Turkish president added, however, that he sought a return to normal relations with the U.S.

“We think there is no problem we cannot solve with the American administration,” he said, urging the Trump administration to end its “hot-tempered attitude and return to its good senses.”

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Top Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays MORE called on Turkish officials to release the pastor, Andrew Craig Brunson, "immediately" while dismissing Turkey's claims that Brunson is involved with terror groups.

“Pastor Brunson’s unjust detention and continued prosecution by Turkish officials is simply unacceptable,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE has made it abundantly clear that the United States expects Turkey to release him immediately.”

President Trump threatened "large sanctions" in a tweet if Turkey did not release Brunson from custody.

“The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being,” Trump tweeted last week. “He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!”