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U.S. Puts Sanctions On Turkish Ministers Over Pastor's Detention

U.S. pastor Andrew Craig Brunson is escorted by Turkish plainclothes police officers to his house in Izmir on July 25.

The United States has imposed sanctions on two Turkish ministers over the detention of a U.S. pastor, prompting a vow of retaliation from Ankara.

Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, 50, has been detained since 2016. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly warned NATO ally Turkey that he would impose sanctions if the pastor was not released, calling him an innocent man.

The sanctions announced on August 1 target Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who the White House accused of playing "leading roles" in Brunson's arrest and "implementing Turkey’s serious human rights abuses."

The sanctions freeze any U.S. property belonging to Gul and Soylu, and prohibit U.S. individuals from doing business with them.

Gul said on Twitter that he had "not a single penny either in the U.S. or any other country outside Turkey."

"We have a property in America: FETO," Soylu tweeted, referring to the movement of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for a 2016 failed coup attempt.

"We will not leave it there. We will get it," the minister added.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry accused Washington of "disrespectfully interfering with our justice system," and vowed "retaliation without any delay."

Turkey wants the United States to extradite Gulen, but Washington says there is not enough evidence to extradite him.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested that Brunson could be traded for the exiled cleric.

Based on reporting by dpa, AP, and Reuters