USA pastor held in Turkey may be released under secret deal

NBC News: US Pastor to Be Released After Secret Turkey Deal

The White House, however, isn't spiking the football and celebrating just yet. There was optimism several months ago, including from Brunson's attorney who said in a radio interview that he expected the pastor's release at the time, followed by a decision by Turkish authorities to continue to hold the United States citizen under house arrest while he faced trial.

"The Trump administration, however, isn't fully confident that Turkey will follow through with the Brunson agreement because Ankara was close to a commitment to release him several months ago but did not", the outlet reported Thursday, citing a senior administration official. Saudi Arabia categorically denies the claims, but has faced an avalanche of global criticism for failing to provide any other explanation.

"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.

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 US security and the defense industry.

"He should be released today in fact", Pompeo said at the time, while applying political pressure to secure the release. "They know the expectations".

In a negotiated deal that includes the lifting of USA sanctions - both threatened and implemented - against Turkey, charges against the Rev. Andrew Brunson are to be reduced to allow him to be sentenced to time already served, or to be allowed to serve any remaining sentence in the United States.

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"That needs to be done immediately", he added.

"The United States and Turkey are North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and have a number of mutual concerns regarding regional security and stability", the senators said.

At the beginning of August, the U.S. Treasury slapped hefty economic sanctions upon two Turkish officials who were largely responsible for the jailing of an American missionary. The Turkish government, however, have refused to budge on the matter.

"This is a judiciary matter", Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Reuters at the time. Brunson is facing terrorism charges, which he denies. "On Oct. 12 there will be another hearing and we don't know what the court will decide and politicians will have no say on the verdict".

Erdogan has good reasons to make Brunson's release happen. "Let's wait and see what the court will decide".

Trump has doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum and sanctioned two senior Turkish officials, leading to a plunge in the value of the country's lira currency. "The current economic challenges have been exaggerated more than necessary and Turkey will overcome these challenges with its own resources", the President declared.

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