US, Turkey said to reach deal on release of American pastor
In exchange, Trump administration will ease economic pressure on Ankara
One of the many areas of friction between Turkey and the United States may finally be resolved, according to a report on Thursday, after a secret deal was apparently stuck for the release of a US citizen who has been detained for two years.
Pastor Andrew Brunson is expected to be released within the coming days, according to two senior Trump administration officials briefed on the matter. NBC reported the news, citing the White House sources who added that the US will ease economic pressure on Turkey as part of the deal.
Brunson has been accused of aiding terrorist groups as well as participation in a 2016 attempted coup.
The officials cited in the report, however, cautioned that Ankara may not follow through on the purported deal. 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 US citizen under house arrest while he faced trial.
Brunson is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on Friday.
“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,” one of the senior administration officials was quoted by NBC as saying.