White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced on Wednesday that the United States would be sanctioning Turkey’s Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu over the imprisonment of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been in custody for 21 months. The U.S. is sanctioning the officials because they “played leading roles in the organizations responsible for the arrest and detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson,” the Treasury Department said in a statement. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Turkey refused to release Brunson “after numerous conversations between President Trump and President Erdogan, and my conversations with Foreign Minister Cavusoglu.” Pompeo reportedly called Cavusoglu about the sanctions, and both plan to speak about Brunson further on sidelines of the ASEAN summit. Brunson was arrested on terror and espionage charges after living in the country for nearly 20 years. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence recently threatened sanctions against the country if the pastor was not released “immediately,” which prompted a strong reaction from Turkish officials. Brunson was recently moved from prison to house arrest, but his appeal for release was rejected by a Turkish court Tuesday.
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