Turkey's Erdogan Says U.S. Officials' Assets Will Be Blocked in Retaliation for Sanctions

Erdogan's announcement comes amid an ongoing row between Ankara and Washington over the detention of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan making a speech during a meeting of his ruling party in Ankara on August 4, 2018.
\ HANDOUT/ REUTERS

Turkey is to block the access of two top U.S. officials to Turkish assets in retaliation for U.S. sanctions placed on two Turkish ministers over the continued detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday. 

"Today, I am also instructing my colleagues: we are going to freeze the assets of American justice and interior ministers in Turkey, if they have any," Erdogan told a televised women's branch congress of his ruling Justice and Development Party in Ankara. 

In his first public reaction to the dispute, Erdogan said he was hoping for a speedy solution. 
"Diplomatic channels are working very intensely," Erdogan said, adding that he hoped the U.S. side will "return to common sense as soon as possible." 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had their first face-to-face meeting in Singapore on Friday, with both indicating that talks over the Brunson issue would continue.

On Wednesday, the U.S. blocked all U.S. properties belonging to Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul in the US, saying the two played "leading roles in the arrest and detention" of Brunson.

Brunson was detained in October 2016 and arrested in December that year in the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey and faces charges of espionage and terrorism in Turkey. He currently remains under house arrest in Izmir province.