A Turkish court set free U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson after holding him in prison for almost two years, removing a key source of tension between Turkey and the United States.
President Trump scored a huge win today when imprisoned American Christian pastor Andrew Brunson was released from a Turkish prison. Trump had applied crippling sanctions on Turkey, demanding that Brunson be released before any new talks could take place.
“And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” Acts 5:40,41 (KJV)
This is the type of hardnose diplomacy made famous by the 40th American president Ronald Reagan, and the exact opposite of the pusillanimous ‘lead from behind‘ cowardice of 44th American president Barack Obama.
Congratulations Mr. President for standing strong, and welcome home Pastor Brunson. Most importantly, thank you LORD for hearing and answering all the many prayers to bring this man home and back to safety.
FROM BLOOMBERG: The court in Izmir convicted Brunson, 50, an evangelical pastor from North Carolina, and sentenced him to three years, 1 month and 15 days in jail, but lifted all judicial controls and released him after accounting for penalty reductions and time served.
Brunson had been accused of collaborating with terrorist groups and participating in a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. His prolonged imprisonment led the U.S. to impose sanctions on two Turkish ministers and threaten further penalties were he not released.
Brunson had lived in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir for more than 20 years before being arrested on espionage charges in 2016 as part of a crackdown following the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He was transferred to house arrest in July because of poor health, but U.S. officials had expected him to be freed at that time.
Brunson’s continued detention — and Erdogan’s refusal to release him despite intense pressure from the White House — was a significant factor in a precipitous decline in U.S.-Turkey relations in recent months. Furious over Turkey’s refusal to let him go, President Donald Trump in August doubled metal tariffs on Turkey and slapped sanctions on two senior Turkish officials involved in Brunson’s detention.
“I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Aug. 10. “Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”
Turkish officials had sought meetings with the U.S. to negotiate a resolution to the Brunson case and other issues, but in August National Security Adviser John Bolton declared no such talks would proceed until Brunson was let go. In the meantime Turkey’s lira continued its fall, losing about 25 percent of its value in August alone.
The White House made no concessions to Turkey to secure Brunson’s release, one U.S. official said. He’s expected to fly to a third country, possibly Germany, before returning to the U.S. It’s not clear whether or when the U.S. will drop sanctions imposed on Turkish officials in response to his detention. READ MORE