Detained US pastor on trial in Turkey

Glen Norman
October 13, 2018

NBC's sources said an agreement on Brunson's release was advanced in discussions last month between Turkish and USA officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, during the United Nations General Assembly in NY. Prosecutors said on Friday they were seeking a 10-year jail term.

Brunson and his wife Norine Lyn Brunson are taken into custody for "threat against the national security".

Brunson and his supporters say that the charges against him have been fabricated.

"But at that point he was only moved from prison to house arrest, and that upset the White House", Kenyon reports.

Brunson was detained in October 2016 and formally arrested that December.

U.S. broadcaster NBC said Turkey and the United States had reached a secret deal for Brunson to be released on Friday and some charges against him dropped, in exchange for the USA easing "economic pressure" that included sanctions which have hammered the lira.

After his release, Donald Trump said Brunson would soon be back in the United States.


"We're grateful to the president, members of Congress and diplomatic leaders who continued to put pressure on Turkey to secure the freedom of Pastor Brunson", lawyer Jay Sekulow, who represents Brunson's family, said in a statement received by the Reuters news agency.

Evangelical pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, who was arrested by Turkish authorities in 2016 on charges of espionage and links with terror groups, goes on trial in the city of Izmir.

Brunson's lawyer Ismail Halavurt told ABC News they would still move to appeal his case because they reject all the charges.

A senior Trump administration official said, however, that the administration is "not fully confident" Turkey will oblige by the terms of the agreement.

Weeks before Brunson's release, a USA diplomatic source told MEE that relations can only be improved if Turkey gives up its decision to buy the S-400s.

In August, Trump told reporters that Turkey had "not acted as a friend" and "they made up phony charges that he's a spy".

Gulen, who is a lawful permanent resident of the USA living in Pennsylvania, has denied that allegation.


The resumption of the trial came at a sensitive time for the Turkish leadership, which is under global scrutiny over how it handles the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared at Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul.

Çavuşoğlu and Pompeo made the phone call after the release of the USA pastor, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

Erdoğan had previously attempted to craft a deal with the U.S.to trade Brunson for Fethullah Gülen, the USA -based Turkish cleric that he blames for the coup attempt.

The judge also released Brunson from house arrest, allowing him to leave the country.

Meanwhile, the parents of the rejoiced on Friday on learning that a court ordered their son to be released.

He spent most of that time working for the Izmir Resurrection Church, which had a small congregation. Mr Brunson denied the accusation and Washington had demanded his immediate release.

"I am and innocent man".


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

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