Turkey Vows Retaliation In Crisis With US Over Pastor

Turkey was on Thursday drawing up retaliatory measures after Washington slapped sanctions on two Turkish ministers in one of the biggest crises between the two NATO allies in recent years.

Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson (m), escorted by Turkish plain clothes police officers as he arrives at his house on July 25, 2018, in Izmir. STRINGER / AFP

Tensions have soared over Turkey’s detention on terror charges of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was first held in October 2016 and was moved to house arrest last week.

The sanctions targeting Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu freeze any property or assets on US soil held by the two ministers and bar US citizens from doing business with them.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told journalists both ministers had “played leading roles in the arrest and detention of Pastor Brunson”, who led a Protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir.

The US Treasury implemented the sanctions under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow jail, and which allows the US to sanction foreign officials implicated in rights abuses.

The Turkish foreign ministry warned that the move “will greatly damage constructive efforts” to solve outstanding issues.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who is set to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the next few days, said the move “will not go without response”.

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