‘No deal’ behind pastor Brunson’s release from Turkey

American pastor whose arrest for treason enraged Trump is due in court and could be released TODAY

American pastor whose arrest for treason enraged Trump is due in court and could be released TODAY

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.

The court case of American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who ran Resurrection Church in Turkey for two decades, is underway.

"I love Jesus. I love Turkey", Brunson said, according to the Associated Press.

As part of a reported secret deal arranged with the United States, a Turkish court released American pastor Andrew Brunson on Friday.

Brunson had been accused of links to Kurdish militants and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the cleric blamed by Turkey for a coup attempt in 2016.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has always insisted that he could not meddle with Turkey's judicial independence and that only the courts would decide Pastor Brunson's fate.

"Pastor Brunson was on trial for the crime of 'Christianization, '" the ACLJ statement said.

In the fourth hearing in the case against Andrew Brunson, the prosecutor however also recommended that he be convicted on terror-related charges.

United States president Donald Trump said in a tweet on the heels of the news regarding the pastor release, that his thoughts and prayers are with pastor Brunson, hoping "to have him safely back home soon!"

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Brunson reiterated his innocence in the final hearing, asking the court to acquit him.

Sanctions, trade tariffs and the threat of more had led US-Turkey relations to nosedive - and with them, the Turkish lira. His prolonged imprisonment led the U.S.to impose sanctions on two Turkish ministers and threaten further penalties were he not released.

Mr Brunson and U.S. officials insisted he is innocent of all charges.

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!'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in late September that Brunson "could be released this month" and indicated again on Wednesday that he could be released soon.

The Americans, a Turkish diplomat told MEE, drew a line during the talks and told Ankara: "We have no more to give or to negotiate, release Brunson and let's start talking then". If the pastor remains under Turkish arrest, ties between Ankara and Washington will worsen and Erdogan faces the prospect of more sanctions, not just for Brunson but for Turkey's recent purchase of Russian S400 defense missiles.

Additionally, Turkey could now hope that the US will lift tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports, injecting some confidence into an economy rattled by high inflation and a mountain of foreign currency debt.

He had accused Brunson of using aid work to Syrian refugees as a cover to find and aid ethnic Kurds who were members of the PKK, a group designated as a terror organization by Turkey and the U.S. He was moved from jail to house arrest at his home in the city of Izmir in July, in what was seen as a potential step toward his release.

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.

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