U.S. pastor held in Turkey may be released under secret deal
12 October, 2018, 11:54 | Author: Wade Massey
Turkey has good financial and strategic reasons to release the American, analysts say, including the threat of further United States sanctions related to Brunson, and its purchases of Russian weaponry and Iranian oil.
Those familiar with the deal told NBC that "it includes a commitment by the U.S.to ease economic pressure on Turkey".
In a negotiated deal that includes the lifting of US 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. "We're hopeful but it's a fluid situation", said one official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
A person involved in efforts to free Andrew Brunson says the 50-year-old evangelical pastor from North Carolina could be freed at his next court appearance on Friday.
Brunson was taken from his house - where he had been under house arrest since July 25 - under strict security measures and brought to the prison and courthouse complex in Aliağa district for the trial.
"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.
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.
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The White House and Brunson's family won't comment the report that the pastor's release is imminent.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has led a sustained diplomatic effort to have the pastor released, recently declared that Brunson "should have been released last month", and that he expects "he could be released this month", according to the Financial Times.
Brunson has been accused of backing outlawed Kurdish rebels and the network led by US -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Brunson is charged with links to Kurdish militants and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the cleric blamed by Turkey for a failed coup attempt in 2016. Mr Erdogan has indicated he would swap the pastor for "the priest" (Mr Gulen).
"We are determined to fight this twisted attitude that has attempted to impose sanctions on our country by using a pastor who has dark ties to terror groups as the pretext", Erdogan said.
Turkey wants the United States to agree to his extradition.
"I believe the US administration will correct its wrong view toward our country sooner or later", he said. Charges against Brunson would be reduced and he would be sentenced to time served or be allowed to serve any remaining term in the United States, the Post said, citing USA officials and people close to the case.
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