Economy

Donald Trump Celebrates Release of Pastor Andrew Brunson

Donald Trump Celebrates Release of Pastor Andrew Brunson

The pastor was detained two years ago and has been under house arrest in the city of Izmir since July.

The American pastor Andrew Brunson could be released in Turkey on Friday nearly two years after his arrest, following secret talks between Washington and Ankara.

President Trump denounced his imprisonment as a "total disgrace", while Vice President Mike Pence threatened to "impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free".

The saga has been at the forefront of tense relations between the countries, who have slapped economic sanctions on each other as the case has wound its way through the courts.

The Trump administration advocated persistently for Brunson's release, leading to an intense economic showdown between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Brunson's imprisonment led to USA tariffs against Turkey and drawn condemnation from President Donald Trump, who frequently lashed out at Ankara over the United States man's detainment. "Those prayers combined with the unwavering resolve of President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador Brownback brought tangible help to Pastor Brunson and hope to those around the globe who are being persecuted due to their faith".

Shockingly, the court upheld its bogus terrorism conviction of the Christian pastor but is still allowing him to leave Turkey anyway.

U.S consulate officials escort Norine Brunson, wife of American pastor Andrew Brunson, as she departs for her husband's court hearing on October 12, 2018 in Izmir, Turkey. "Will be home soon!" he wrote.

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He denied the charges but faced up to 35 years in jail.

Turkey runs "a risk of the US Treasury announcing a substantial fine on Halkbank for violating US sanctions on Iran", its analysts said of the Turkish state-owned bank, adding that, "if Brunson is not released, the odds of Turkey receiving an Iran sanctions waiver from the US in early November for continued oil imports also go down significantly".

Brunson and United States officials insisted he is innocent of all charges.

The American Center for Law and Justice had been working in the USA and overseas to secure Brunson's release.

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

In the fourth hearing in the case against Andrew Brunson, the prosecutor however also recommended that he be convicted on terror-related charges. "I love Jesus. I love Turkey", said Brunson, wearing a dark suit and red tie.

After an eventful hearing, the court sentenced Brunson to three years and one month in prison for aiding a terrorist organization, while ruling for his release from house arrest pending appeals procedures. "My entire family thanks the President, the administration, and Congress for their unwavering support".

The diplomatic stand-off over Brunson, who had been pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church, had accelerated a sell-off in Turkey's lira currency, worsening a financial crisis.


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