Turkey releases USA pastor Andrew Brunson after 2 years in captivity

BREAKING White House Reaches Deal With Turkey to Free Jailed US Pastor Andrew Brunson  image Getty Center for Law and Justice

BREAKING White House Reaches Deal With Turkey to Free Jailed US Pastor Andrew Brunson image Getty Center for Law and Justice

Trump slapped Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, with sanctions in August, targeting the country's justice and interior ministers. Turkey wanted to exchange Brunson for the Muslim cleric it accused of orchestrating the failed coup, Fetullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania.

Tony Perkins, the commissioner for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said he welcomed the court's decision Friday along with "the millions of Americans who have been praying for Pastor Brunson's release".

"I'm very hopeful that before too long, Pastor Brunson will - he and his wife will be able to return to the United States", Pompeo said at an awards dinner for the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.

According to CNN, he said: "I am an innocent man".

Two senior administration officials said there was no deal with Turkey for Brunson.

U.S. president Donald Trump said in a tweet on the heels of the news regarding the pastor release, that his thoughts and prayers are with pastor Brunson, hoping "to have him safely back home soon!" A ban on Brunson traveling out of Turkey and an order for house detention were also lifted, meaning the pastor is free.

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Turkish sources close to negotiations between the two countries say that the use of S-400 systems would create a crisis between Turkey and the U.S. because the systems are capable of targetting and hitting most North Atlantic Treaty Organisation missiles.

"They have?" she said, her voice quavering.

The couple said Mr Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had been instrumental in securing their son's freedom. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and others for their intervention.

The earlier charge of espionage against him was dropped.

Additionally, Turkey could now hope that the US will lift tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports, injecting some confidence into an economy rattled by high inflation and a mountain of foreign currency debt.

"The White House thought they had a deal after President Trump spoke with Turkey's president".

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Some commentators have suggested that in order to procure America intervention - particularly against the Saudis, who Trump considers a firm ally - Turkey should release all of its American hostages - starting with Pastor Brunson.

Earlier, the court called two witnesses following tips from witness Levent Kalkan, who at the previous hearing had accused Brunson of aiding terror groups. He was formally arrested in December of that year and placed under house arrest on July 25 for health reasons. He had faced up to 35 years in jail.

"This administration has been actively engaged in seeking Pastor Brunson's release for months, along with NASA scientist Serkan Golge and the employees of the US mission in Turkey", a senior administration official said.

On Friday, he celebrated the pastor's release on Twitter. The evangelical pastor was convicted of terror-related charges, but he was also accused of espionage. They "form a key part of Trump's base and have long advocated for increased protections on religious freedom in the US and overseas".

At the U.N. General Assembly last month, Trump and Erdogan had a brief, informal meeting.

Turkish officials have told their American counterparts for years that Ankara wants to buy the US-made Patriot air defence system, but that the Turkish government has grown increasingly sceptical about the transaction ever taking place.

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