Trump calls on Erdogan to release jailed American pastor

Trump calls on Erdogan to release jailed American pastor
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I will deliver State of the Union 'when the shutdown is over' Former NYPD commander claims Trump got special treatment for gun licenses Colbert starts petition for Cardi B to give State of the Union rebuttal MORE on Wednesday urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to release an American pastor who has been held prisoner in the country for nearly two years, calling his continued detainment a "total disgrace."

Trump reacted to a Turkish court ruling earlier in the day that pastor Andrew Brunson will remain in jail until his trial reaches an outcome.

"A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected U.S. Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison. He has been held hostage far too long," Trump tweeted.

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"(Erdoğan) should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father. He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!" he added.

Brunson has been working in Turkey for 23 years as the pastor of the Resurrection Church. He was detained 21 months ago for an alleged connection to a failed coup against Erdoğan in 2016.

He is accused of aiding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which opposes Erdoğan and the ruling party, and of having a connection to Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric who Turkey claims orchestrated the coup attempt. 

Brunson has denied the charges.

Trump, Vice President Pence and other U.S. officials have lobbied Turkish officials for months to release Brunson. The pastor's continued detention has reportedly strained U.S.-Turkey relations.

Trump called for Brunson's release via Twitter in April, claiming the pastor has been held for "no reason."