Trump to host American pastor freed by Turkey

Trump to host American pastor freed by Turkey
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE on Friday hailed the release of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who was being held by the Turkish government, saying Brunson would visit the Oval Office on Saturday.

"I hear he's in very good shape," Trump told reporters traveling with him in Ohio, where he is attending campaign events. “We’re very honored to have him back with us. He suffered greatly.”

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The Trump administration had long pushed the Turkish government to release Brunson, who was imprisoned in October 2016 during a crackdown following a coup attempt. 

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Turkish officials in response to Brunson's imprisonment, but Trump denied reports the administration promised to lift those sanctions in exchange for Brunson's release. 

"There was no deal at all. No deal," he said. 

The evangelical pastor faced charges of espionage and aiding terrorist groups, which he denies. His case was a cause célèbre for many devout Christians.

Brunson was convicted Friday on a charge of aiding terrorism but was sentenced only to time served.

The White House told reporters that Brunson had cleared Turkish air space earlier Friday and was due to arrive at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, D.C., around noon Saturday after making a stop in Germany.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement said the administration wanted to "commend the strength shown by Pastor Brunson and his family over a difficult two years" and thank those who helped push for his release.

"We remain deeply concerned about the continued detention of other United States citizens in Turkey and around the world, and urge the resolution of all these cases in a transparent and fair manner," the statement read.

—Updated at 5:30 p.m.