The Department of the Treasury will sanction Turkey's ministers of Justice and Interior for the arrest and detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson.
"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," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday.
"As a result, any property or interest in property of both ministers within U.S. jurisdiction is blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them," Sanders added referring further questions to the Treasury Department.
In October 2016, Turkey detained American pastor Andrew Brunson on accusations of spying and attempting to overthrow the government. Brunson has denied all charges.
Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have intensified over Brunson's trial and his continued detainment. Ankara recently transferred the American citizen to house arrest. Last week, President Donald Trump threatened to slap "large sanctions" on Turkey unless it freed Brunson.
"The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being," Trump wrote in a tweet. "He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!"
Vice President Mike Pence doubled down on Trump's tweet Thursday issuing a similar threat.
"To President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the president of the United States of America: release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences," Pence told a religious freedom conference hosted by the State Department.
At the time, neither Trump nor Pence elaborated on what kind of sanctions they could impose.
The tweets prompted an angry response from Ankara and further escalated tensions between the two NATO allies. A spokesman for Turkish President Erdogan said Tuesday that Ankara will retaliate against any U.S. sanctions.
Meanwhile, all of this comes as Congress is inching closer to blocking the transfer of two F-35 jets to Turkey.