BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:00 P.M.) – White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that the US Department of the Treasury has opened up sanctions against two Turkish ministers over the detention in Turkey of US pastor Andrew Brunson, while speaking to the press in Washington D.C. on Thursday.
“We believe he is a victim of unfair and unjust detention by the government of Turkey. At the president’s direction, the Department of the Treasury is sanctioning Turkey’s Minister of Justice, and Minister of Interior, both of whom played leading roles in the arrest and detention of pastor Brunson,” Sanders said.
Brunson has been transferred to house arrest after a Turkish court ruled his health condition to be poor.
Brunson was detained in October 2016 for allegedly conspiring with exiled preacher Fethullah Gulen whom Ankara deems responsible for the failed 2016 coup; Brunson has refused the accusations of espionage, calling them “disgusting.”
The evangelical pastor’s arrest had created a rift in Ankara-Washington relations with US President Donald Trump and Turkey’s NATO allies repeatedly demanding the pastor’s release.