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Turkey strongly protests against US sanctions decision

Foreign Minister Cavusoglu says US sanctions on two Turkish ministers 'will not go unanswered'

Turkey strongly protests against US sanctions decision

By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun


Turkey strongly protests against a decision by the U.S. Treasury Department to impose sanctions on two ministers, the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement late Wednesday.

"An equivalent response to this aggressive attitude will be given without delay," it said.

The ministry called on the U.S. administration to reverse its "wrong decision".

"There is no doubt that the decision, which disrespectfully intervenes in our judicial system, stands in contrast to the essence of our relations and will seriously damage the constructive efforts made in order to resolve problems between the two countries," it said.

"U.S. attempt to impose sanctions on our two ministers will not go unanswered," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter.

He also said the two countries would not resolve issues unless the U.S. administration realizes that Turkey will not give in to unlawful U.S. demands with this method.

On his Twitter account, one of the ministers targeted for sanctions, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul, said he does not own any property or have money outside Turkey.

He added that his only dream was to live in Turkey until the end of his life.

Previously, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said the U.S. would impose sanctions on Turkey’s ministers of justice and interior for not releasing American Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, who faces terrorism charges in Turkey.

Sanders said the U.S. would block the properties, if any, of the two ministers.

In a written statement published Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury Department said Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu "played leading roles in the organizations responsible for the arrest and detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson".

According to U.S. law, those mentioned on the sanctions list will have any of their assets and properties under U.S. jurisdiction blocked and American businesses and individuals will be prohibited from engaging in financial transactions with them.


Brunson indictment

Brunson has been charged with spying for the PKK -- a designated terrorist group in the U.S. and Turkey -- and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the defeated July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey which martyred 251 people and injured thousands.

The American pastor was arrested in October 2016. The Izmir 5th Penal Court of Peace on Dec. 9 of that year ordered Brunson's continued detention pending trial.

On July 25, the 2nd High Criminal Court in Izmir decided to turn Brunson's detention into house arrest in light of his health problems.

Izmir Public Prosecutor Berkant Karakaya's indictment stated that Brunson acted in accordance with terrorist groups' strategies under the pretext of being a man of religion. It added that Brunson knew the aims of such groups and yet still willingly cooperated with them.

In the indictment, Brunson was mentioned as getting in touch with FETO's high-ranking members using their alias. He was accused of determining his strategies by getting in touch with FETO fugitives Bekir Baz, his assistant Murat Safa and Amnesty International's Turkey branch head Taner Kilic, who is awaiting trial in prison for "being a member of an armed terrorist group".

In the technical investigation, 293 close GSM signals were detected from Brunson with fugitive Bekir Baz.

The indictment also mentions a message sent to a U.S. soldier expressing sadness over the July 2016 defeated coup.

The text message said: “We were expecting an earthquake to shake the Turkish nation. The conditions returning to Jesus were met now. Many Turks relied on the military like in the past, but this time it was too late. Another blow after the coup attempt. I think the situation is going to get worse. We'll win at the end."

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