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Iran Press TV

Turkey vows retaliation against US sanctions over jailed pastor

Iran Press TV

Thu Aug 2, 2018 05:15PM

Turkey has vowed to take retaliatory measures against the United States after Washington slapped two Turkish ministers with sanctions over the trial of a jailed American pastor in the Anatolian country.

In a statement on Thursday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry warned the White House that the move "will greatly damage constructive efforts" to settle outstanding issues and that Ankara would surely retaliate.

"Without delay, there will be a response to this aggressive attitude that will not serve any purpose," it further said.

Tensions between the two NATO allies have heightened over Turkey's detention on alleged terror charges of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was in custody for 21 months in a Turkish prison until he was transferred to house arrest last week.

The American pastor, who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was ordered by a Turkish court to wear an electronic bracelet at all times. The court also prevented him from traveling outside of the country.

On Wednesday, the White House announced that it was imposing sanctions on Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu. The sanctions involve freezing any property or assets on the US soil held by the two ministers. The sanctions also prevent American citizens from doing any business with the two ministers.

It had been unprecedented for the US so far to slap a NATO ally with sanctions.

In a separate statement, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who is set to meet his American counterpart Mike Pompeo in the coming days, also warned that the provocative move "will not go without response."

Brunson, 50, was indicted by a Turkish court on charges of having links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group and the movement of the US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Brunson has already denied the charges, calling them "shameful and disgusting." If evangelical pastor is found guilty, he will face up to 35 years in jail.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly demanded Brunson's release and said on Twitter last month that the pastor's detention over terrorism and espionage charges was "a total disgrace." He also called the prisoner "a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being."

Additionally on Thursday, Turkey's Treasury and Finance Minister Berat said the US sanctions were unacceptable and would have limited impact on the Turkish economy. He added that Ankara's priority was to settle the issue with Washington through dialogue and diplomacy.

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