Published: Fri, October 12, 2018

US Pastor to Be Released After Secret Turkey Deal

US Pastor to Be Released After Secret Turkey Deal

United States officials believe they're on the verge of securing the release of Andrew Brunson, the American pastor jailed by Turkey on accusations he helped plot a coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to a source familiar with the matter.

News reports, citing senior administration officials and an individual briefed on the matter, that "under an agreement recently reached with Turkey, Brunson is supposed to be released after certain charges against him are dropped at his next court hearing".

While Brunson's October 12 hearing was already scheduled weeks in advance, analysts say his possible release comes at an opportune time for Turkey, which is looking to win support from the U.S.as it faces a political crisis with the Saudis.

A senior Trump administration official said, however, that the administration is "not fully confident" Turkey will oblige by the terms of the agreement.

Hopes are rising that American pastor Andrew Brunson may be freed, more than two years after he was first detained in Turkey.

The US has been adamant that Brunson is innocent and has repeatedly asked Turkey to free him.

While Brunson's lawyer, Haravut, said he was optimistic about Friday's hearing, he told Yahoo News he was not aware of any deal securing Brunson's release.

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 U.S. tariffs against Turkey and condemnation from U.S. President Donald Trump.


The source cautioned that USA 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.

An American pastor may soon be released after two years of captivity in Turkey.

"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.

However, US Vice-President Mike Pence would only say "we remain hopeful".

"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.

"President Trump has had a focus on it, the administration has had a focus on it, and we're very hopeful that we'll see a good outcome before too long", Pompeo told the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.

But amid the frenzied diplomatic crisis that has followed Khashoggi's disappearance, releasing Brunson now could afford Turkey much-needed leverage from the U.S.in challenging Saudi Arabia.

"The Khashoggi affair adds a new variable to a complex question the US and Turkey had already found quite hard to solve". Brunson has denied the accusation - as has Gulen - and Washington has demanded his immediate release.

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