The US, according to the president Donald Trump no compensation for the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey. "I do not do deals for hostages," Trump wrote on Twitter. "No deal was made with Turkey for the release and return of Pastor Andrew Brunson." The US would appreciate the step but very much. The release will "lead to good, perhaps great, relations between the United States and Turkey."
Trump received Brunson from the White House and praised his release from Turkish custody as a "huge step" in improving the "very tense" relationship Turkey, Brunson thanked the President for his efforts to secure his release. The evangelical pastor said a prayer for Trump, kneeling beside the US president and laying a hand on his shoulder.
Brunson, who had been held in Turkey for two years for terrorist charges, was at the center of a diplomatic crisis between Washington and Ankara governments. Trump had imposed sanctions on two Turkish ministers in the wake of the crisis and raised tariffs against Turkey. The US president had accelerated the decline of the Turkish currency Lira.
Trump brought the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with one of his tweets to the case of Brunson in explanation: He expressly thanked Erdoğan "for his help". Erdoğan was forced to state in a tweet that the Turkish judiciary was independent. A court in Izmir had lifted the house arrest and the exit lock Brunsons on Friday.
Facilitation for Turkey?
The US station NBC had reported on a "secret agreement" that had paved the way for Brunson's return. In return, the US had promised to take economic pressure from Turkey. The US State Department has not confirmed such an agreement. Erdoğan wrote: "I hope the US and Turkey will continue their cooperation, as befits two allies."
The president of the conservative Christian organization Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, praised Trump indirectly for the release. "Under this government, it means something to be American!". Perkins had watched the trial in Izmir and had traveled back with Brunson and his wife.
Allegation of support for the PKK
Brunson sat since October 2016 on charges of espionage and the support of a terrorist organization in Turkish imprisonment and later in house arrest. The Turkish authorities accused him of supporting the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Gülen movement.
The pastor had always rejected the allegations and asserted his innocence. Trump and US Vice President Mike Pence campaigned for the evangelical pastor, who headed a small community in the western Turkish coastal city of Izmir before his arrest.