Turkey’s President ordered the freezing of assets of two US officials, state media reported Saturday, days after the United States imposed sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara will freeze the assets in Turkey of US “justice and interior” secretaries, state-run Anadolu reported.
It was not immediately clear which specific US officials he was referring to or whether the officials have any Turkish assets. The attorney general heads the Justice Department in the United States.
The US Treasury Department is sanctioning Turkey’s ministers of justice and interior in response to the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday.
“We’ve seen no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong,” Sanders said, calling his detention “unfair and unjust.”
The two officials will have any assets and properties under US jurisdiction blocked and Americans will be prohibited from engaging in financial transactions with them.
The US Treasury announced that the United States is sanctioning Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu over their roles in Brunson’s arrest and detention.
“Pastor Brunson’s unjust detention and continued prosecution by Turkish officials is simply unacceptable,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. “President Trump has made it abundantly clear that the United States expects Turkey to release him immediately.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu responded on Twitter, saying, “(T)he effort by the US to impose sanctions on our two ministers will not go unanswered. We cannot solve our problems until the US administration understands that it cannot get its unlawful demands with this method.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday he was “hopeful that in the coming days” Turkey would free Brunson.