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USA pastor detained in Turkey may soon be released
12 October 2018, 05:10 | Joann Bryant
Turkish prosecutor seeks 10-year jail term for US pastor
News reports two senior administration officials and another person briefed on the matter say certain charges against Brunson will be dropped at a court hearing scheduled for Friday. They are cautiously awaiting until Brunson gets home before any congratulations are issued. He denies the claims against him made by Turkish officials.
A Turkish court convicted American pastor Andrew Brunson of aiding terrorism on Friday but sentenced him to just time served and ordered his immediate release.
The pastor, who is originally from Black Mountain, North Carolina, was imprisoned for almost 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.
One of the many areas of friction between Turkey and the United States may finally be resolved, according to a report on Thursday, after a secret deal was apparently stuck for the release of a U.S. citizen who has been detained for two years.
"We remain hopeful that with the court proceeding tomorrow that Turkey will see its way clear and free this good man who is guilty of nothing and who has been incarcerated for several years in Turkey unjustly", Pence said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has led a sustained diplomatic effort to have the pastor released, recently declared that Brunson "should have been released last month", and that he expects "he could be released this month", according to the Financial Times.
The case of the evangelical preacher caught up in Turkey's post-coup security sweep had garnered the attention of the highest levels of the American administration and become a sore point in the two countries' relations.
But the administration is being cautious about setting expectations, especially after its previous deal with Turkey to release Mr Brunson collapsed in August and included a release of Turkish prisoner in Israel.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has insisted that he had no sway over the judiciary and that the courts would decide on Brunson's fate.
"We see this as a possible face-saving way for Erdogan to agree to Brunson's release", the Eurasia Group said last week.
Trump has doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum and sanctioned two senior Turkish officials, leading to a plunge in the value of the country's lira currency.
The Brunson case has grown into the biggest of several disputes between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and has been one of the factors in a 40 percent slide in value of the Turkish lira this year. "The current economic challenges have been exaggerated more than necessary and Turkey will overcome these challenges with its own resources", the President declared.
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