Trump administration sanctions Turkish officials over Brunson case
by Mickey McLean
Posted 8/01/18, 02:10 pm
UPDATE: The White House announced Wednesday that the Treasury Department is imposing sanctions on two Turkish officials over the NATO ally’s refusal to release American pastor Andrew Brunson. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Trump administration will sanction Turkish Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu, both of whom played major roles in the arrest and detention of Brunson, who is being tried on espionage and terror-related charges.
Editor’s note: Later Wednesday afternoon, the Turkish government called on the United States to reverse its decision to sanction the officials and threatened to retaliate.
OUR EARLIER REPORT (11:31 a.m.): A Turkish court rejected an appeal Tuesday to release American Pastor Andrew Brunson from house arrest and refused to lift a travel ban that prevents him from leaving the country, saying there is still a “strong criminal suspicion” against the pastor, according to Turkey’s Anadolu news agency. A judge released Brunson on July 25 from prison, placing him under house arrest.
Brunson awaits a continuation of his trial on Oct. 12, when he’ll face espionage and terror-related charges. The U.S. government says the charges have no merit while experts call the accusations “outrageous.”
President Donald Trump last week threatened sanctions against Turkey if the NATO ally doesn’t drop the charges and release Brunson. The Turkish government responded by calling on the United States to respect the country’s judicial process. “It is unacceptable for the United States to use threatening language against Turkey over a continuing judicial case,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said. “Turkey will never give up on its principled stance.”
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Mickey is executive editor of WORLD Digital.