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4 Turkish political parties protest US sanctions on 2 ministers

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Four of Turkey’s political parties on Thursday protested US economic sanctions imposed on two Turkish ministers, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The US Department of the Treasury on Wednesday sanctioned Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu over the continued detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

“We say ‘no’ to the US threats with the common solidarity and determination of our nation. We strongly protest the US sanction decision on the Turkish government’s two ministers,” said a joint statement signed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the İYİ (Good) Party.

Last week US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened to impose “large sanctions” on Turkey for their long-term detainment of Brunson.

Ankara on Wednesday protested the decision by the US Treasury to impose sanctions on the two ministers.  Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the “US attempt to impose sanctions on our two ministers will not go unanswered.”

“An equivalent response to this aggressive attitude will be given without delay,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement late Wednesday.

The İzmir 2nd High Criminal Court on July 25 ruled to move Brunson from pretrial detention, in which he has been held since October 2016, to house arrest in İzmir but barred him from leaving the premises or the country.

The US administration immediately welcomed the ruling but said it was not enough, calling on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately.

Brunson, who ran a small Christian church in İzmir, lived in Turkey for 23 years along with his family before he was taken into custody.

Prosecutors demand 35 years in prison for Brunson over activities on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as well as the Gülen movement, accused by the government of masterminding a failed coup in 2016.

The movement denies any involvement.

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