Aug. 5 (UPI) — Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday his country will freeze assets of U.S. officials in Turkey in retaliation of U.S. sanctions against them.
Erdogan said he would freeze assets of “U.S. secretaries of justice and interior in Turkey,” in a speech Saturday at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s congress for its women’s organization in Ankara.
“Those who think that they can make Turkey take a step back by resorting to threatening language and absurd sanctions show that they do not know the Turkish nation,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan added the countries should sort out the dispute soon.
“The channels of diplomacy are working very intensely,” Erdogan said. “I think that we will leave behind a major chunk of differences between us soon.”
The move comes after the United States announced sanctions against Turkey’s justice and interior ministers over the arrest of American pastor Andrew Brunson and months of unsuccessful negotiations for his release.
Brunson has been detained since 2016 on charges of terrorism and espionage related to a failed military coup against the Turkish government.
He was transferred to house arrest on July 25 for the duration of his trial over health concerns, but U.S. officials said that was not satisfactory.
“We have seen no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson, and call on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.