American Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, a 50-year-old evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina, center, waves as he leaves a prison outside Izmir, Turkey, Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Brunson who had been jailed in Turkey for more than 1 ½ years on terror and espionage charges was released Wednesday and will be put under house arrest as his trial continues. Pastor Brunson was let out of jail to serve home detention because of “health problems,” Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said.(DHA via AP)
When Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a close call of the worst kind with an abortive military coup in 2016, he blamed an exiled Turkish Muslim preacher, Fethullah Gülen, and demanded his extradition from the US to Turkey. When the US refused, Erdogan did what Turks have done from time immemorial: he seized a hostage. In this case, it was an American pastor named Andrew Brunson who was selected to be the bargaining chip. Preacher for preacher. The Turks accused Brunson of all manner of nebulous bullsh** and tossed him in prison. President Trump was prevailed upon to plead Brunson’s case when he met with Erdogan during the NATO summit and thought he’d struck a deal. A Turkish national imprisoned in Israel would be sent back to Turkey and Brunson would be released. Trump carried through his end of the bargain. Erdogan reneged. Trump was not pleased and placed massive tariffs on some classes of Turkish goods. And the Turkish lira and stock market cratered. Here are my earlier stories on the happenings:
Now it is breaking that Turkey and the US have reached a deal that will free Brunson.
NEW: Exclusive: White House expects N.C. pastor Andrew Brunson to be released by the Turkish government and returned to the U.S. in coming days, two years after he was detained, according to two senior administration officials and another person briefed. https://t.co/BJQNUuDTtO
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 11, 2018
BREAKING: Turkish Lira sharply strengthens against the U.S. dollar as @NBCNews reports that the White House has reached a secret deal with Turkey for the release of pastor Andrew Brunson in the coming days https://t.co/2KvsBv8Lc1 pic.twitter.com/3wCSANdOLP
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) October 11, 2018
This is great news and long past due. Like him or not, Trump showed Turkey he was willing to knock its economy in the dirt, NATO ally or not, because of this extralegal kidnapping of an American citizen. And Erdogan blinked.
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