On Friday, Pastor Andrew Brunson, who had been in a Turkish jail starting in 2016 before he was moved to house arrest in July of this year for health reasons, all after being charged with aiding an intended coup led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gulenist movement against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was finally released after intense lobbying by the United States.
Brunson stated, “This is the day our family has been praying for, I am delighted to be on my way home to the United States. My entire family thanks the president, the administration, and Congress for their unwavering support.” President Trump said, “We’re very honored to have him back with us. He suffered greatly.”
The Turkish court sentenced Brunson to three years and one month in prison, but released him because he had already served two years in jail. Brunson had lived in Turkey for over 23 years with his wife and three children.
On Friday, Brunson left his home in Izmir, Turkey, to travel to Germany before his intended return to Washington, D.C.
Although the Trump Administration had made no bones about wanting Turkey to release Brunson, Turkey’s presidential office slammed President Trump for his tweet saying he had been “working very hard on Pastor Brunson” and his release.
But the BBC reported, “In the end, pressure from Washington on Ankara was too much. Sanctions, trade tariffs and the threat of more had led US-Turkey relations to nosedive – and with them, the Turkish lira. Facing spiralling inflation, a 40% drop in the value of the currency and the start of an economic crisis, Turkey had to act to normalise relations with the US. Mr Brunson was the key.”
The Trump Administration slammed Turkey with sanctions in August; Trump said Turkey had “not acted as a friend” and that the charges against Brunson were “phony.”