Trump administration cautiously optimistic pastor jailed in Turkey will be freed
12 October, 2018, 11:52
Trump administration officials said Thursday that the U.S. had struck an agreement with Turkey to release North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson from prison and return him to the usa within days.
Two unnamed senior administration officials and a third person briefed told NBC that the US and Turkey reached a deal to secure Mr. Brunson's return home.
"President Trump, our administration, has made it clear that we will continue to stand strong until pastor Brunson is free and back home in the USA with his family and his church", added Pence, a devout Christian who has worked to free Brunson for the last two years.
The Secretary of State said that "Pastor Brunson and the other USA persons that are being held by Turkey all need to be released by Turkey".
That hearing is now scheduled for Friday.
Brunson, a Christian preacher from North Carolina, became the center of a diplomatic row between Ankara and Washington after Turkey jailed him on terrorism charges.
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.
The source cautioned that United States officials are counting on Turkish officials to follow through on their end of the agreement, which appears to now be in place with Brunson due to appear before a Turkish court on Friday.
Mr Brunson is one of 20 Americans who were charged after the coup attempt two years ago, according to the New York Times.
Jailed or held under house arrest since October 2016, Brunson faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted.
"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. "President Trump has had a focus on it, the administration's had a focus on it, and we're very hopeful that we'll see a good outcome before too long". "We hope to solve the matters between us as soon as possible and develop ties with the U.S.in politics and the economy once again, in line with the spirit of being strategic partners".
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.
"The Khashoggi affair adds a new variable to a complex question the USA and Turkey had already found quite hard to solve".
More than 50,000 people were arrested in Turkey in President Erdogan's huge post-coup crackdown.
The U.S. continues to refuse Ankara's demands that the cleric Gulen be extradited.
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