United States pastor detained in Turkey may soon be released

United States pastor detained in Turkey may soon be released

United States pastor detained in Turkey may soon be released

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're hopeful but it's a fluid situation", said one official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

"We continue to believe Pastor Brunson is innocent and the hearing on Friday is another opportunity for the Turkish judicial system to free an American citizen", a senior administration official told NBC News.

The Thursday comments come a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was hopeful that Turkey would release the pastor soon, ending a two-year detention that has shaken relations between the one-time allies.

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. The charges against him should be dropped at his next court date on Friday.

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But amid the frenzied diplomatic crisis that has followed Khashoggi's disappearance, releasing Brunson now could afford Turkey much-needed leverage from the U.S.in challenging Saudi Arabia.

While Brunson's October 12 hearing was already scheduled weeks in advance, analysts say his possible release comes at an opportune time for Turkey, which is looking to win support from the U.S.as it faces a political crisis with the Saudis.

Brunson has been under arrest since December 2016 and under house arrest since July. "Brunson has been detained on terrorism charges ..." Charges against him, which he and the Trump administration have said are bogus, include contacts with the so-called coup mastermind, Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, a permanent US resident living in Pennsylvania and a longtime political foe of Erdogan. "We hope to solve the matters between us as soon as possible and develop ties with the U.S.in politics and the economy once again, in line with the spirit of being strategic partners".

The Turkish lira firmed on the report.

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"This is a judiciary matter", Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Reuters at the time.

The trial against an American pastor at the heart of a diplomatic dispute between Turkey and the United States has resumed in Turkey.

He blames Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen for the attempt, but Mr Gulen denies any involvement.

Relations have not been good between the United States and Turkey, with Brunson becoming caught up in a protracted political feud.

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The evangelical pastor is accused of terror-related charges and espionage, facing up to 35 years if convicted.

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