White House, Turkey reach deal for release of detained US pastor: report

The White House and Turkish officials have reached a deal for the release of an American pastor who has been detained in Turkey for two years, according to a report from NBC News.

Two senior administration officials and a third person who was briefed on the matter told NBC that Turkey will release North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson after some of his charges are dropped at his next court hearing, which is set for Friday.

NBC reported that the details of the agreement are not yet clear, but it includes a commitment from the U.S. to ease economic pressure on Turkey.

{mosads}One senior official told NBC that the administration is not positive Brunson will be released, given that Turkey had previously refused to release him after coming close to a deal with the White House.

“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,” a third senior administration official said.

NBC reports that the White House does not plan to publicly address Brunson’s release prior to his hearing in case it endangers his chance at freedom.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said in remarks to the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, “I am very hopeful that before too long Pastor Brunson will, he and his wife will be able to return to the United States.”

The Trump administration brought economic sanctions against Turkey in August after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s administration refused to release the pastor.

Erdogan said earlier this month that he will not release Brunson, saying that the pastor has “dark links with terror.”

The pastor has been detained since 2016 on charges that he helped individuals involved in a fail coup that year.

Tags Andrew Brunson Mike Pompeo President Trump Tayyip Erdogan Turkey Turkey sanctions

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