Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

US, Turkey said to reach deal on release of American pastor

US, Turkey said to reach deal on release of American pastor

"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", a senior administration official told NBC News.

Finally, after an excruciatingly long wait of nearly two years, it appears the incarceration of United States pastor Andrew Brunson will finally come to an end.

The Post said the deal included lifting usa sanctions, some already imposed and others threatened.

The Trump administration, however, remains cautious, because, an official told NBC, Ankara reneged on an agreement several months ago to release Brunson.

NBC's sources said an agreement on Brunson's release was advanced in discussions last month between Turkish and US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, during the United Nations General Assembly in NY.

An armored police auto is seen outside the home of USA pastor Andrew Brunson in Izmir, Turkey October 11, 2018.

Brunson is under house arrest but could get up to 35 years in prison if convicted on charges that his lawyers say are baseless.

Turkey runs "a risk of the US Treasury announcing a substantial fine on Halkbank for violating US sanctions on Iran", its analysts said of the Turkish state-owned bank, adding that, "if Brunson is not released, the odds of Turkey receiving an Iran sanctions waiver from the US in early November for continued oil imports also go down significantly".

Brunson left his house early on Friday to the hearing amid reports he could be released.

"I am very hopeful that before too long. he and his wife will be able to return to the United States", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.

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 US security and the defense industry.

Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was arrested in a sweep of thousands that took place after an unsuccessful coup attempt in 2016. "On Oct. 12 there will be another hearing and we don't know what the court will decide and politicians will have no say on the verdict".

At the U.N. General Assembly last month, Trump and Erdogan had a brief, informal meeting. Brunson has denied the accusation - as has Gulen - and Washington has demanded his immediate release.

"The Khashoggi affair adds a new variable to a complex question the US and Turkey had already found quite hard to solve".

"I believe the USA administration will correct its wrong view toward our country sooner or later", he said.

However, Vice President Mike Pence, speaking on Thursday, dialed back expectations that Brunson's release is imminent.

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