Freed pastor Brunson arrived in US Saturday


A US pastor was flown out of Turkey on Friday after a court freed him from two years of detention, in a step that could improve US-Turkish ties strained by disputes over Syria, Iran and Ankara’s planned purchase of Russian military equipment.

Pastor Andrew Brunson landed at Joint Base Andrews near Washington at around noon EDT (1600 GMT) on Saturday after a stop in Germany for a medical check-up.

Brunson who was jailed for two years, had been under house arrest since July. He was accused of links to Kurdish militants and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the cleric blamed by Turkey’s government for a coup attempt in 2016.

The Turkish court sentenced Brunson to three years and 1-1/2 months in prison on terrorism charges, but said he would not serve any further jail time and freed him.

Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years, denied the accusations and Washington had called for his immediate release.

U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell greeted Brunson and his wife during a refueling stop in Germany, the envoy said on social network Twitter.

“He’s almost home thanks to @realDonaldTrump,” Grenell wrote. “When I presented him with the US flag, he immediately kissed it.”

According to President Donald Trump, Brunson was expected to visit the White House Oval Office on the day of his arrival.

Trump said no agreement was made for the pastor’s freedom in response to a question asked, if U.S sanctions were imposed on Turkey to try to win Brunson’s release.

“There was no deal made at all. There was no deal. But we’re very happy to have him and have him in good shape.” Trump told reporters in Cincinnati.

The diplomatic fight over Brunson had accelerated a recent sell-off in Turkey’s currency, worsening its financial crisis.


-Times Live

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