Trump praises Erdoğan during convention segment with freed hostages
President Trump on Monday offered praise for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for releasing American pastor Andrew Brunson last year after imprisoning him for roughly two years on disputed charges.
Trump met with six Americans who were freed from captivity during his administration, including Brunson, in a prerecorded segment that aired during the first night of the Republican National Convention.
“I have to say that, to me, President Erdoğan was very good,” Trump told Brunson. “And I know they had you scheduled for a long time, and you were a very innocent person, and he ultimately, after we had a few conversations, he agreed. So we appreciate that, and we appreciate the people of Turkey.”
Brunson worked in Turkey for 23 years as the pastor of the Resurrection Church. He was detained for an alleged connection to a failed coup against Erdoğan in 2016, though he denied any wrongdoing.
Monday night’s comments are the latest instance of Trump offering praise for leaders such as Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, something Democrats criticized him for during their convention last week.
Trump highlighted the case of other Americans who were held hostage in Iran and Venezuela on Monday. They in turn expressed their gratitude to the president and aides who negotiated their release.
“We got you back. We got you all back,” Trump said. “And we have some more that we’re working on right now to get back.”