USA pastor detained in Turkey may soon be released
12 Octubre, 2018, 11:52 | Author: Kelly Blake
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.
Brunson has been held for nearly two years trumped-up on wide-ranging charges of conspiring to overthrow the Turkish government.
If Turkey follows through on the purported agreement, that economic pressure will be eased, the U.S. officials told NBC News. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because officials had not yet reached a final agreement on the release and it could still fall through.
"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 senior administration official said.
Ismail Cem Halavurt, lawyer of the jailed pastor Andrew Brunson, talks to media outside the Aliaga Prison and Courthouse complex in Izmir, Turkey May 7, 2018.
Mr Brunson was moved into house arrest in July for health reasons, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this was not enough.
The evangelical pastor is accused of terror-related charges and espionage, facing up to 35 years if convicted.
NBC's sources said an agreement on Brunson's release was advanced in discussions last month between Turkish and US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, during the United Nations General Assembly in NY.
Brunson left his house early on Friday to the hearing amid reports he could be released.
"I'm very hopeful that before too long, Pastor Brunson will - he and his wife will be able to return to the United States", Pompeo said at an awards dinner for the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.
Mr Brunson is a long-term resident in Turkey. Turkey blames Gulen for the failed coup attempt against Erodogan, who has responded by bolstering the powers of the presidency and cracking down on dissent. Mr Erdogan has indicated he would swap the pastor for "the priest" (Mr Gulen).
"The Khashoggi affair adds a new variable to a complex question the US and Turkey had already found quite hard to solve". Turkey has retaliated with tariffs. Trump and Erdogan met briefly on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September for the first time since relations soured over Brunson. He has denied the accusation - as has Gulen - and Washington has demanded his immediate release.
"I believe the US administration will correct its wrong view toward our country sooner or later", he said. That was echoed by Vice President Mike Pence, who declined to confirm any deal, but voiced hope Brunson would be released.
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