President Donald Trump warned last week that he might impose sanctions against Turkey, a key NATO ally, for its treatment of Andrew Craig Brunson in a case that has strained U.S.-Turkish relations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his government won’t back down and was willing to „go its own way” if the U.S. imposes sanctions.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the sanctions would target Turkey’s justice and interior ministers, whose agencies she said were responsible for the pastor’s arrest and detention.
„We’ve seen no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong, and we believe he is a victim of unfair and unjust attention by the government of Turkey,” Sanders said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Turkish government refused to release Brunson „after numerous conversations between President Trump and President Erdogan,” along with his conversations with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavosuglo. „President Trump concluded that these sanctions are the appropriate action,” Pompeo said.