Brunson's release a 'tremendous step' in US-Turkey ties, Trump says

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published
US President Donald Trump prays with American pastor Andrew Brunson in the Oval Office of the White House, Saturday October 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo)
US President Donald Trump prays with American pastor Andrew Brunson in the Oval Office of the White House, Saturday October 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo)

The release of American pastor Andrew Brunson by a Turkish court is a "tremendous step" forward in U.S.-Turkish relationship, U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday.

"We have had very harsh past number of months, because of what was happening. This is a tremendous step toward having the kind of relationship with Turkey, which can be a great relationship that I know we are going to have," Trump said.

When asked about lifting sanctions on Turkey imposed over Brunson, Trump said, "we'll take a look," reiterating that there was "absolutely no deal."

"We have a chance of really becoming much closer to Turkey, and maybe even having a very, very good relationship," Trump added.

After thanking Trump, Brunson kneeled next to him in prayer, asking God to give the U.S. president "supernatural wisdom."

Brunson was arrested in December 2016 and charged in the Aegean province of Izmir with being a member of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the group behind a defeated coup earlier that year.

After being transferred from jail to house arrest this July, Brunson on Friday was sentenced to just over three years in prison, but released due to time served and his good behavior in custody.

The charges against him included spying for both FETÖ and the PKK, a group recognized as terrorist by the U.S. and EU, which is responsible for some 40,000 deaths in Turkey, including women and children.

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