Turkish ministers shrug off US sanctions

ISTANBUL: Two top Turkish ministers shrugged off sanctions imposed on them by the United States even as the value of local lira currency plunged on Thursday, as tensions between the Nato allies rose over the detention of a US pastor.
The United States imposed sanctions on Wednesday against Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul over the continued detention of Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, who is being tried on espionage and terrorism-related charges.
“We have a property in America: FETO,” Soylu shot back on Twitter, referring to the movement of Fethullah Gulen, cleric living in exile in the US whom Ankara blames for a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
“We will not leave it there. We will get it,” Soylu wrote.
Turkey has repeatedly demanded Gulen’s extradition. US President Donald Trump had warned Turkey he would punish his Nato ally if Brunson was not released.
The ministers were sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act, used to punish authorities or entities anywhere in the world for human rights abuses and corruption.
Hours before sanctions were announced, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Trump administration of being led by an “evangelist, Zionist mentality.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry later said that “the aggressive attitude in question that will not serve any purpose will be met in retaliation without any delay.” On Thursday, Erdogan used an official engagement to demonstrate his support for the two penalised ministers.
Soylu and Gul flanked the president as he laid a wreath at the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic.
On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Singapore. — dpa