USA pastor detained in Turkey may soon be released

12 Octobre, 2018, 06:15 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Pastor Andrew Brunson is escorted by Turkish plainclothes police officers on July 25 in Izmir. More

"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", one of the senior administration officials was quoted by NBC as saying.

However, Pompeo said in a speech Wednesday to the Jewish Institute for National Security of America he was "very hopeful that before too long Pastor Brunson will, he and his wife will be able to return to the United States".

In a negotiated deal that includes the lifting of US sanctions - both threatened and implemented - against Turkey, charges against the Rev. Andrew Brunson are to be reduced to allow him to be sentenced to time already served, or to be allowed to serve any remaining sentence in the United States. "The Brunson case is not even closely related to Turkey's economy. President Trump has had a focus on it, the administration's had a focus on it, and we're very hopeful that we'll see a good outcome before too long".

The White House and Brunson's family won't comment the report that the pastor's release is imminent.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Thursday, in response to a question about NBC's report, that they "don't have any further information" on whether Brunson will be released and are not aware of any such deal. "There's a legal process to play out".

In August, a Turkish court rejected an appeal for Brunson's release, leading to economic sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump and souring relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies. "He's not a spy".

"We have seen no credible evidence against Mr Brunson", Mr Pompeo tweeted at the time.

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But there have been signs of a warming. Trump and Erdogan met briefly on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September for the first time since relations soured over Brunson. And shortly afterward, Erdogan predicted the two countries would weather the storm.

Erdogan had said he wouldn't hand Brunson back to the USA, but analysts at the Eurasia Group note that the Turkish President has recently shifted position, saying the decision wasn't his to make but would be made by the independent Turkish judiciary. It had moved Brunson from prison to house arrest in July.

Congress, where anti-Turkey sentiment over the Brunson case has been high, passed legislation freezing the sale of 100 F-35 aircraft to Turkey and giving Defense Secretary Jim Mattis - who opposed the freeze - until next month to prepare a report on how it would affect USA security and the defense industry.

Turkey wants the U.S. to agree to his extradition.

Erdogan has good reasons to make Brunson's release happen.

The Eurasia Group notes another danger.

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.

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