Turkey retaliates over USA sanctions

Turkey has repeatedly said Brunson's case is being handled by the courts and the government cannot intervene

The row over Brunson escalated last week when US Vice President Mike Pence, like the pastor an evangelical Christian, said Turkey would face "significant sanctions" if this "innocent man of faith" was not freed.

"Further escalation in the standoff could prompt further capital outflows and have a negative impact on the confidence in the economy", said Jakob Christensen, head of emerging markets research at Danske Bank.

After reports that the United States would sanction individuals over the case, the lira hit a record low of 5.01 against the dollar, before rallying slightly to 4.9.

The cost of insuring Turkey's debt against default spiked to the highest in more than six years, while the BIST 100 share index tumbled more than 2.5 percent, with banking stocks among the decliners. As do all the Americans being held by the Turkish government.

Turkey's foreign ministry in response said it would retaliate against Washington's decision, calling it a "hostile stance".

"Pastor Brunson's unjust detention and continued prosecution by Turkish officials is simply unacceptable", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

FILE PHOTO: Tourists count their money after changing foreign currency to Turkish lira at a currency exchange office in Istanbul, Turkey, August 19, 2015.

Brunson was moved to house arrest last week following almost two years in jail on terror-related charges but the change only increased tensions. On Tuesday, a court rejected his appeal to be released during his trial.

"I am instructing my friends today, we will freeze assets, if there are any, of the U.S. justice and interior secretaries in Turkey", Erdogan, speaking at a ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party meeting in Ankara, was quoted as saying by the official Anadolu news agency.

Those conflicts include the arrests of USA citizens as well as local consular staff, US senators pushing to block the delivery of American F-35 jets following Turkey's pledge to buy the Russian S-400 missile system, and Turkey's demand that Fethullah Gulen, a US -based cleric blamed for a failed coup attempt, be extradited to stand trial.

The pastor denies the charges against him and his defence team argues the case is built on questionable witness statements.

It was unclear who would be affected by Erdogan's announcement because of differing cabinet roles in the United States, or if they have any holdings in Turkey. He was also charged with supporting outlawed PKK Kurdish militants.

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