US, Turkey said to reach deal on release of American pastor
US, Turkey said to reach deal on release of American pastor
North Carolina Pastor Andrew Brunson Reportedly Set to be Released by Turkish Government
12 October, 2018, 17:10
Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years and ran a protestant church in Izmir, was detained in October 2016 and accused of helping those responsible for the failed coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He is one of thousands caught up in a wide-scale government crackdown that followed a failed coup against the Turkish government in July 2016.
Political tensions between the two countries sparked worries in the markets after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to use economic pressure to secure Brunson's release.
In the fourth hearing in the case against Andrew Brunson, the prosecutor however also recommended that he be convicted on terror-related charges.
"There is a will on both sides to solve this problem", said a United States diplomat.
Brunson, who sat alone in front of a panel of judges and the state prosecutor, was also allowed to speak following each witness's testimony. Brunson has denied the accusation - as has Gulen - and Washington has demanded his immediate release. A person involved in efforts to free Andrew Brunson says the 50-year-old evangelical pastor from North Carolina could...
"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.
NBC reports that Brunson's release was discussed in September when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton met with Turkish officials at the United Nations General Assembly in NY.
A little later on Thursday, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters, "I am not aware of any such deal".
If the court lifts Brunson's house arrest order on Friday and doesn't impose a new travel ban, he will be free to leave the country. Those moves in August, coupled with concerns over the government's economic management, helped trigger a Turkish currency crisis.
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 US tariffs and sanctions against Turkey and condemnation from President Donald Trump.
The US has been adamant that Brunson is innocent and has repeatedly asked Turkey to free him.
William Devlin, an evangelical pastor from NY spoke to reporters outside the prison, saying hundreds of thousands of Christians are praying for Brunson's release. According to AFP, the court also ruled in favor of lifting his house arrest and the travel ban on the United States citizen.
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