Turkey’s president said Saturday the country will freeze the assets of two United States officials in retaliation for sanctions against Turkey‘s justice and interior ministers over the detention of an American pastor.
Speaking in Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had been “patient” since the U.S. Treasury sanctions imposed Wednesday, but ordered authorities to “freeze the assets of America’s justice and interior ministers in Turkey, if there are any.”
It is unclear who that would affect, due to differing Cabinet roles in the United States than in Turkey, or if the intended officials even have any holdings in Turkey.
Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul mocked the sanctions this week, saying they have no assets in the U.S, but the sign of deteriorating Turkish-American relations sent Turkey’s national currency — the lira— tumbling.
Erdogan called the sanctions a “serious disrespect towards Turkey” and accused the U.S. of hypocrisy for demanding the release of evangelical pastor Andrew Craig Brunson while ally Turkey tries him over alleged links to terror groups.