Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Turkey 'will retaliate' over U.S. sanctions as crisis grows

Andrew Brunson was accused of being involved in the failed coup attempt Andrew Brunson was accused of being involved in the failed coup attemptAFP GETTY IMAGES
Glenn Montgomery | 04 August, 2018, 18:29

The sell-off, which also hammered local stocks and Turkey's debt risk profile, reflected deepening investor concern over tensions with the United States, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and major trading partner.

Those conflicts include the arrests of USA citizens as well as local consular staff, US senators pushing to block the delivery of American F-35 jets following Turkey's pledge to buy the Russian S-400 missile system, and Turkey's demand that Fethullah Gulen, a US -based cleric blamed for a failed coup attempt, be extradited to stand trial.

Speaking in Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had been "patient" since the U.S. Treasury sanctions imposed Wednesday, but ordered authorities to "freeze the assets of America's justice and interior ministers in Turkey, if there are any".

Erdogan's remarks came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met on the sidelines of a summit in Singapore on Friday and described the meeting as "constructive".

Meanwhile, Turkey has said the U.S. demands for the pastor's release are "unacceptable". He is facing a 35-year sentence if convicted of the charges of "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member" and espionage.

"Of course you can't expect all issues to be resolved in a single meeting".

He was held in a Turkish prison for 21 months until he was transferred to house arrest last week. "They agreed to continue to try to resolve the issues between our two countries", she said. The attorney general heads the Justice Department in the United States.

"I hope they'll see this for what it is, a demonstration that we're very serious", he said of the sanctions. "These are innocent people", he said.

The lira hit a record low of 5.0934 to the dollar, recovering to trade at 5.0605 by 1434 GMT.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara will freeze the assets in Turkey of USA "justice and interior" secretaries, state-run Anadolu reported.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that Brunson was a "victim of unfair and unjust attention by the government of Turkey" as she announced sanctions.

The American pastor was also charged with supporting outlawed Kurdish PKK fighters.

He is scheduled to appear before a court in October for his third hearing after the court rejected an appeal for his release in a July 18 hearing. Gulen denies the allegations.

Brunson's case has resonated with President Donald Trump and particularly with Vice President Mike Pence, who has close ties to evangelical Christians.

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