WASHINGTON—The United States on Wednesday announced sanctions against Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Syleyman Soylu over Turkey’s imprisonment of Pastor Andrew Brunson.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the two ministers had played leading roles in Brunson’s arrest. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement formally announcing the financial restrictions saying that “Pastor Brunson’s unjust detention and continued prosecution by Turkish officials is simply unacceptable, President Trump has made it abundantly clear that the United States expects Turkey to release him immediately.”
Brunson, an Evangelical Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was indicted on charges of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gulen organization and was arrested in relation to the failed 2016 coup. He was remanded to house arrest last week.
“We join with our coalition partners – In Defense of Christians and the Hellenic American Leadership Council – in welcoming the Administration’s launch of a sanctions regime against Turkey,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America.
“Today’s action dramatically underscores a glaring inconsistency: The White House continues to enforce Ankara’s Armenian Genocide gag-rule even as its imposes sanctions against Turkey’s increasingly anti-Armenian conduct. It’s time – once and for all – for the Trump-Pence Administration to take away Erdogan’s veto of honest American remembrance of Turkey’s World War I-era genocide and exile of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, and other Christian nations.”
Sanders said that President Donald Trump had spoken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Brunson.
“The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being. He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!” Trump tweeted Thursday.
The Turkish lira plummeted to a new low after the sanctions were announced.