Monday, June 24, 2019
Home World Released US pastor Andrew Brunson returns to the US, meets with Trump

Released US pastor Andrew Brunson returns to the US, meets with Trump

The president introduced Brunson and praised his resilience during his two years in prison.

"I just want to congratulate you because you have enchanted this land," said Trump. "There's so much interest, and it's your belief, it's your strength, what you've done, gone through."

Trump also thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for facilitating Brunson's return.

"I want to thank President Erdogan for making this possible," said Trump. "It was not easy, it was not easy for him."

After introducing his family, Brunson thanked Trump for working on his "term of office" dismissal.

"Above all, we want to thank the government, they really fought for us, weird," Brunson said, turning to the president. "Since taking office, I know you were engaged."

Brunson also thanked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and Sens. Thom Thillis of North Carolina, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma.

"We are grateful to so many people in the congress who stood with us and prayed and fought for us, so we want to thank you," said Brunson.

Brunson then prayed loudly for the president and asked that Trump be blessed with "supernatural wisdom" and "courage to stand the truth" and that he would be "protected from slander from enemies and those who would undermine him".

Brunson's wife, Norine, then prayed loudly for the president and asked to receive "the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of council and power, the spirit of knowledge, and the fear of the Lord."

"Thank you, may I ask you a question?" Trump asked her about the blessing. "Who did you choose for?"

The group laughed and the pastor assured Trump that he had sent an electoral card from Turkey for him.

"I knew the answer, I would never do that to myself – that could be too hard," said Trump, before congratulating the family and expressing the hope of an improved relationship with Turkey through Brunson's dismissal.

"We've had a very tough relationship in recent months because of what happened," Trump said. "This is a huge step towards some kind of relationship with Turkey, which can be a great relationship that I know we will have."

The president tweeted on Saturday that Brunson would return to the Oval Office with him on his return, adding that his release was "NO DEAL" with Turkey.

Pastor faced decades in jail

Brunson was arrested in Turkey since 2016. He was accused of planning a coup attempt against Erdogan. US officials say that Brunson was illegally detained.

The fall of the evangelical pastor strained relations between the two NATO allies and raised the possibility of significant US sanctions and other threats.

"It'll be wonderful to see and meet him," Trump tweeted on Saturday. "He is a great Christian who has had such a hard experience and I would like to thank President @RT_Erdogan for his help!"

"There was NO OFFER with Turkey for the release and return of Pastor Andrew Brunson," Trump said in a follow-up tweet, adding, "I do not do deals for hostages, but there was great appreciation on behalf of the United States that will lead to good, perhaps great relations between the United States and Turkey! "

The Turkish president said Saturday in one tweet that "the Turkish judiciary has made its decision independently" and that he hopes that the US and Turkey "will continue their cooperation as the allies that they are and fight together against terrorist groups".

Brunson has been living in Turkey with his wife and three children for more than 23 years, according to the American Center for Justice and Justice, an organization led by Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow, who campaigned for his release.

Brunson was charged in March 2016 with espionage and links with terrorist organizations. Among the allegations against Brunson is the support of the outlaw Kurdish workers' party and the Gülen movement, which accuses Turkey of staging the coup attempt.
Brunson was released Friday after being held in Turkey for two years. A Turkish court sentenced the pastor to three years and one month in prison, but decided to release him on the basis of his time and behavior during the trial, Brunson's lawyer said. The prosecutors sought a ten-year prison sentence.

"He's in good shape, I think," Trump told reporters Friday. "We are very honored to have him back with us, he has suffered a lot, but we are very grateful for many people, many people."

Trump tweeted about Brunson several times this year, and the White House repeatedly called for his release in talks with Turkish officials.

In April, Trump claimed that Brunson was "persecuted without reason in Turkey" and said, "You call him a spy, but I'm more of a spy than him, hopefully he'll be allowed to come home to his lovely family belongs!"

Months later, Trump tweeted that the United States would impose "big sanctions" on Turkey for arresting Brunson, "a great Christian family man and wonderful person." He suffers greatly, this innocent man of faith should be released immediately! "


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