Published On: Sat, Oct 13th, 2018

Pastor Andrew Brunson will meet with Trump in the Oval Office

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President Trump is to meet Andrew Brunson, the American pastor freed after nearly two years of detention in Turkey on Saturday afternoon.  

Brunson, 50, had flown to Germany on Friday for a medical checkup at a U.S. military hospital and will be meeting the President later on Saturday. 

He is due to arrive at a U.S. military base near Washington around noon.

The President tweeted news of pastor’s impending visit: Pastor Andrew Brunson, released by Turkey, will be with me in the Oval Office at 2:30 P.M. (this afternoon). It will be wonderful to see and meet him. He is a great Christian who has been through such a tough experience. I would like to thank President @RT_Erdogan for his help!

Brunson was accused of terror-related charges and espionage, and faced up to 35 years in jail. 

US pastor Brunson arrives at Adnan Menderes airport in Izmir, after being freed

US pastor Brunson arrives at Adnan Menderes airport in Izmir, after being freed

US pastor Brunson arrives at Adnan Menderes airport in Izmir, after being freed

President Trump says Andrew Brunson will meet him in the Oval Office on Saturday afternoon

President Trump says Andrew Brunson will meet him in the Oval Office on Saturday afternoon

President Trump says Andrew Brunson will meet him in the Oval Office on Saturday afternoon

The President then tweeted that 'no deal' was struck for Brunson's release

The President then tweeted that 'no deal' was struck for Brunson's release

The President then tweeted that ‘no deal’ was struck for Brunson’s release

The trial of pastor Andrew Craig Brunson (pictured), which has huge implications for U.S.-Turkey relations, ended Friday with an order to release him¿ a move that allows him to go home

The trial of pastor Andrew Craig Brunson (pictured), which has huge implications for U.S.-Turkey relations, ended Friday with an order to release him¿ a move that allows him to go home

The trial of pastor Andrew Craig Brunson (pictured), which has huge implications for U.S.-Turkey relations, ended Friday with an order to release him– a move that allows him to go home

A Turkish court on Friday convicted Brunson of only the terrorism charges, and the government then freed the evangelical pastor allowing him to return home.

The North Carolina native had rejected the charges and strongly maintained his innocence.

In a follow-up tweet the President made it clear that no deal was struck in order get to secure Brunson’s release. 

‘There was NO DEAL made with Turkey for the release and return of Pastor Andrew Brunson. I don’t make deals for hostages. There was, however, great appreciation on behalf of the United States, which will lead to good, perhaps great, relations between the United States & Turkey!’

The U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, tweeted that he presented Brunson and his wife with an American flag when they arrived in Germany, and the diplomat says Brunson ‘immediately kissed it.’

President Donald Trump told reporters in Ohio that Brunson will soon meet with him in the Oval Office

President Donald Trump told reporters in Ohio that Brunson will soon meet with him in the Oval Office

President Donald Trump told reporters in Ohio that Brunson will soon meet with him in the Oval Office

US pastor Andrew Craig Brunson (down L), is escorted to his home in Izmir, Turkey, before heading to the airport to board a US military plane to begin his journey back to the United States after a court freed him

US pastor Andrew Craig Brunson (down L), is escorted to his home in Izmir, Turkey, before heading to the airport to board a US military plane to begin his journey back to the United States after a court freed him

US pastor Andrew Craig Brunson (down L), is escorted to his home in Izmir, Turkey, before heading to the airport to board a US military plane to begin his journey back to the United States after a court freed him

Speaking in Ohio on Friday, Trump told reporters that it was ‘good news’ and he understands that Brunson is ‘in good shape.’  Trump has long pressed Turkey for the pastor’s release.

‘He’s going to be coming to the Oval Office, most likely on Saturday,’ the president said in Ohio. ‘But we’re very honored to have him back here with us. He suffered greatly but we’re very appreciative of a lot of people, a lot of people.’ 

‘We went through a system and we got him out. We tried to get him out for a long time. This has nothing to do with anything and there’s no deal there at all, there’s no deal,’ he insisted.  

The White House said it was still ‘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 Turkish court’s decision to lift judicial controls meant that evangelical pastor Brunson, at the heart of a diplomatic spat between the two countries, can leave Turkey and return to the United States.

Brunson’s arrest in 2016 sparked a diplomatic dispute between Turkey and the Trump administration, which had threatened new sanctions against the Erdogan government. 

A U.S. embassy official escorted Norine Brunson, the wife of Andrew Brunson, before his trial in Izmir, Turkey, early Friday, October 12

A U.S. embassy official escorted Norine Brunson, the wife of Andrew Brunson, before his trial in Izmir, Turkey, early Friday, October 12

A U.S. embassy official escorted Norine Brunson, the wife of Andrew Brunson, before his trial in Izmir, Turkey, early Friday, October 12

US pastor Andrew Brunson (C) travels in a police vehicle escorted by Turkish police as he enters Aliaga Prison Court at Aliaga District in Izmir

US pastor Andrew Brunson (C) travels in a police vehicle escorted by Turkish police as he enters Aliaga Prison Court at Aliaga District in Izmir

US pastor Andrew Brunson (C) travels in a police vehicle escorted by Turkish police as he enters Aliaga Prison Court at Aliaga District in Izmir

President Donald Trump tweeted – after international press reported the verdict – that he was ‘[w]orking very hard on Pastor Brunson!’

He later added in a second tweet: ‘My thoughts and prayers are with Pastor Brunson, and we hope to have him safely back home soon!’ 

And then a third hit Twitter: ‘PASTOR BRUNSON JUST RELEASED. WILL BE HOME SOON!’  

Fahrettin Altun, communications director for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, insisted that Turkish courts are independent from governments, including Trump’s.

‘We would like to remind him once again that Turkey is a democratic country with the rule of law, and that Turkish courts are independent, he told reporters. ‘No body, authority, office or person may issue orders or instructions to the courts or to judges in the exercise of their powers.’ 

 

 

 

President Donald Trump tweeted after international press reported Brunson's release that he was '[w]orking very hard on Partor Brunson, later adding his 'thoughts and prayers' and a prediction that he will have a safe return to the United States

President Donald Trump tweeted after international press reported Brunson's release that he was '[w]orking very hard on Partor Brunson, later adding his 'thoughts and prayers' and a prediction that he will have a safe return to the United States

President Donald Trump tweeted after international press reported Brunson’s release that he was ‘[w]orking very hard on Partor Brunson, later adding his ‘thoughts and prayers’ and a prediction that he will have a safe return to the United States

Pamela Brunson, 75, the mother of the pastor, was at her home in Black Mountain, a town in North Carolina near Asheville, when she learned of the news from a Reuters reporter calling about the court’s decision.

‘They have?’ she said, her voice quavering. ‘Well, we were at an all-night prayer meeting during the trial and we got home and we fell asleep. We were up all night. Praise God! I’m so excited! Oh that’s wonderful! Thank you so much for letting us know. We’re so happy.’

She brought her husband, Ron, near the phone as the reporter read aloud some of a published Reuters report about the proceedings in Turkey.

‘We are overjoyed that God has answered the prayers of so many people around the world,’ she said.

In Turkey, witnesses said Brunson wept as the decision was announced. Before the judge’s ruling, the pastor told the court: ‘I am an innocent man. I love Jesus, I love Turkey.’

The fourth hearing of the case against Brunson took place in a prison complex near the western Turkish city of Izmir.

Brunson, an evangelical pastor accused of terror-related charges and espionage, arrived in a secured convoy before daybreak. He had faced up to 35 years in jail.

Brunson, 50, has lived in Turkey for more than two decades. He rejected the charges and strongly maintained his innocence.

 

He is one of thousands caught up in the widespread government crackdown that followed a failed coup against the Turkish government in July 2016.

Prosecutors accused Brunson of committing crimes on behalf of terror groups, linking him to outlawed Kurdish militants and a network led by a US-based Turkish cleric who is accused of orchestrating the coup attempt. 

The U.S. maintained that he was being held unjustly, and repeatedly called for his release.

The new hearing came at a time of a new but growing alignment between the U.S. and Turkey over the suspected murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who lived in America and who is feared to have been killed inside the Gulf kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

Turkish police sources have leaked information to a number of news outlets that the Turkish government believes that the Saudi Arabian government ordered Khashoggi’s murder. 

Some commentators have suggested that in order to procure America intervention – particularly against the Saudis, who Trump considers a firm ally – Turkey should release all of its American hostages – starting with Pastor Brunson.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Thursday that the US was hopeful he will soon go free, but said she was unaware of any agreement for his release.

A car carrying Norine Brunson, wife of pastor Andrew Brunson, arrives at the Aliaga Prison and Courthouse complex in Izmir

A car carrying Norine Brunson, wife of pastor Andrew Brunson, arrives at the Aliaga Prison and Courthouse complex in Izmir

A car carrying Norine Brunson, wife of pastor Andrew Brunson, arrives at the Aliaga Prison and Courthouse complex in Izmir

Turkish security officials stand outside a courthouse before a convoy with US pastor Andrew Brunson sitting inside a car arrives for his trial in Izmir

Turkish security officials stand outside a courthouse before a convoy with US pastor Andrew Brunson sitting inside a car arrives for his trial in Izmir

Turkish security officials stand outside a courthouse before a convoy with US pastor Andrew Brunson sitting inside a car arrives for his trial in Izmir

Norine Brunson wife of American pastor Andrew Brunson, departs for her husband's court hearing. Brunson has been under house arrest in Izmir, Turkey while awaiting trial

Norine Brunson wife of American pastor Andrew Brunson, departs for her husband's court hearing. Brunson has been under house arrest in Izmir, Turkey while awaiting trial

Norine Brunson wife of American pastor Andrew Brunson, departs for her husband’s court hearing. Brunson has been under house arrest in Izmir, Turkey while awaiting trial

President Trump has posted a number of tweets about Brunson's case, demanding his release and threatening sanctions on Turkey 

President Trump has posted a number of tweets about Brunson's case, demanding his release and threatening sanctions on Turkey 

President Trump has posted a number of tweets about Brunson’s case, demanding his release and threatening sanctions on Turkey 

The pastor, who is originally from Black Mountain, North Carolina, was imprisoned for nearly two years – detained in October 2016 and formally arrested in December that year – before being placed under house arrest on July 25 for health reasons.

The court’s decision failed to improve tensions between the two NATO allies and Washington slapped sanctions on two Turkish officials and doubled tariff on Turkish steel and aluminum imports. 

Those moves in August, coupled with concerns over the government’s economic management, helped trigger a Turkish currency crisis.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has resisted demands for Brunson’s release, insisting that the courts are independent. 

But he had previously suggested a possible swap of Brunson and the Pennsylvania-resident Fethullah Gulen – the cleric accused of being behind the coup.

Turkish police officers stand near the residence of US pastor Andrew Brunson, who is being held under house arrest in Izmir

Turkish police officers stand near the residence of US pastor Andrew Brunson, who is being held under house arrest in Izmir

Turkish police officers stand near the residence of US pastor Andrew Brunson, who is being held under house arrest in Izmir

Official car of Charge d'Affaires of the U.S. Mission to Turkey Jeffrey M. Hovenier (not pictured) arrives to visit US pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been accused of abetting terrorist groups and supporting Fethullah Gulen, the cleric blamed for the failed coup attempt in 2016

Official car of Charge d'Affaires of the U.S. Mission to Turkey Jeffrey M. Hovenier (not pictured) arrives to visit US pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been accused of abetting terrorist groups and supporting Fethullah Gulen, the cleric blamed for the failed coup attempt in 2016

Official car of Charge d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission to Turkey Jeffrey M. Hovenier (not pictured) arrives to visit US pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been accused of abetting terrorist groups and supporting Fethullah Gulen, the cleric blamed for the failed coup attempt in 2016

A person involved in efforts to free Andrew Brunson say the 50-year-old pastor from North Carolina could be freed at his next court appearance on Friday. 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

A person involved in efforts to free Andrew Brunson say the 50-year-old pastor from North Carolina could be freed at his next court appearance on Friday. 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

A person involved in efforts to free Andrew Brunson say the 50-year-old pastor from North Carolina could be freed at his next court appearance on Friday. 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

Brunson led a small congregation in the Izmir Resurrection Church. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, with representatives monitoring the trial, has listed him as a ‘prisoner of conscience.’

William Devlin, an evangelical pastor from New York spoke to reporters outside the prison, saying hundreds of thousands of Christians are praying for Brunson’s release.

Brunson’s lawyer took the case to Turkey’s highest court last week seeking his release.

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