U.S. pastor detained in Turkey may soon be released

Donald Trump welcomes Andrew Brunson home with Oval Office celebration

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

On Thursday both The Washington Post and NBC News reported a deal had been reached between the U.S. and Turkey for Mr Brunson's release, citing unnamed sources.

News reports, citing senior administration officials and an individual briefed on the matter, that "under an agreement recently reached with Turkey, Brunson is supposed to be released after certain charges against him are dropped at his next court hearing".

"President Trump, our administration, has made it clear that we will continue to stand strong until pastor Brunson is free and back home in the United States with his family and his church".

Brunson, a missionary who has worked in Turkey for more than 20 years, was arrested in December 2016 and accused of backing a coup attempt that July against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A previous deal to get Brunson freed collapsed in July when a Turkish court made a decision to place the American pastor under house arrest.

A senior Trump administration official said, however, that the administration is "not fully confident" Turkey will oblige by the terms of the agreement.

The trial of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is facing terrorism-related charges in Turkey, will resume on Friday in western Izmir province, according to judicial sources. The indictment against Brunson also charges him with having contact with Kurdish separatists that Turkey and the United States have designated as terrorists. 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 USA resident living in Pennsylvania and a longtime political foe of Erdogan. Leaked reports by Turkish officials allege the Saudis lured Khashoggi to its Istanbul consulate, where they then murdered him and disposed of his dismembered body.

He faces a possible sentence of up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

"President Trump has had a focus on it, the administration has had a focus on it, and we're very hopeful that we'll see a good outcome before too long", Pompeo told the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.

At the beginning of August, the U.S. Treasury slapped hefty economic sanctions upon two Turkish officials who were largely responsible for the jailing of an American missionary. That was echoed by Vice President Mike Pence, who declined to confirm any deal, but voiced hope Brunson would be released.

Brunson has been accused of backing outlawed Kurdish rebels and the network led by US -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. "The current economic challenges have been exaggerated more than necessary and Turkey will overcome these challenges with its own resources", the President declared. Trump then authorized a doubling of existing USA steel and aluminum tariffs against Turkey. Brunson has denied the accusation - as has Gulen - and Washington has demanded his immediate release.

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