World News

United States and Turkey reach deal to free detained American pastor

United States and Turkey reach deal to free detained American pastor

NBC News and The Washington Post reported on October 11 that the USA and Turkey had reached an agreement in which some charges against Brunson would be dropped and he would be released at the hearing or soon after.

"We continue to believe Pastor Brunson is innocent and the hearing on Friday is another opportunity for the Turkish judicial system to free an American citizen", a senior administration official told NBC News.

The Secretary of State said that "Pastor Brunson and the other us persons that are being held by Turkey all need to be released by Turkey". Despite being moved to house arrest in July after increasing pressure from the U.S. government, the pastor remains under the control of the authorities.

The authorities accuse him of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Gulenist movement, which Turkey blames for a 2016 failed coup.

NBC's sources explained that much of the deal is unknown, but it will require the U.S.to back down on economic pressures.

In a Middle East Eye report in late September, Turkish and U.S. officials said they were working to free Brunson.

Brunson faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted.

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The case against Brunson, an evangelical preacher from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years, has become the flashpoint in a diplomatic row between Ankara and Washington, triggering U.S. tariffs against Turkey and condemnation from U.S. President Donald Trump.

The trial against an American pastor at the heart of a diplomatic dispute between Turkey and the United States has resumed in Turkey.

"I'm very hopeful that before too long Pastor Brunson, he and his wife, will be able to return to the United States", Pompeo said in response to a question as he accepted an award from a pro-Israel group.

"We remain hopeful that with the court proceeding tomorrow that Turkey will see its way clear and free this good man who is guilty of nothing and who has been incarcerated for several years in Turkey unjustly", Pence said. That was echoed by Vice President Mike Pence, who declined to confirm any deal, but voiced hope Brunson would be released.

Congress, where anti-Turkey sentiment over the Brunson case has been high, passed legislation freezing the sale of 100 F-35 aircraft to Turkey and giving Defense Secretary Jim Mattis - who opposed the freeze - until next month to prepare a report on how it would affect USA security and the defense industry.

More than 50,000 people were arrested in Turkey in President Erdogan's huge post-coup crackdown.

"We see this as a possible face-saving way for Erdogan to agree to Brunson's release", the Eurasia Group said last week. He has denied the accusation - as has Gulen - and Washington has demanded his immediate release.


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