Andrew Brunson, the US pastor who was released on Friday after being detained in a Turkish jail for almost two years, is due to arrive in the United States at noon on Saturday and go to the White House for a meeting with President Trump.
Brunson's release was a top priority for evangelical Christians, and Trump celebrates the pastor's return as a diplomatic coup for his government. The President plans to receive Brunson, 50, at the Oval Office at 2:30 pm before flying to Kentucky for an evening election campaign.
Trump card twittered On Saturday morning, Pastor Andrew Brunson, exempt from Turkey, will be at the Oval Office at 2:30. (this afternoon). It will be wonderful to see and meet him. He is a great Christian who has had such a hard experience. I would like to thank President @ RT_Erdogan for his help! "
Trump insisted that he make no concessions to Turkish President Recep Erdogan to secure the release of Brunson, who had been convicted in the Turkish court for his links with terrorism.
"There was NO OFFER with Turkey for the release and return of Pastor Andrew Brunson," Trump twittered, "I do not do business for hostages, but there was a great appreciation on behalf of the United States, which will lead to good, perhaps great, relations between the United States and Turkey!"
Brunson, who was arrested for espionage and terrorist allegations, was convicted on Friday by a Turkish court, but his sentence was shortened on time, paving the way for his release. He was taken to a US military hospital in Germany on Friday night, where he was examined by doctors.
At a Friday night campaign in Lebanon, Ohio, Trump celebrated the release of Brunson as a triumph and announced to the roaring crowd that the pastor was "free from jail" and would come to Washington.
"We'll say hello," Trump said.
When Brunson landed in Germany overnight, Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, presented him with an American flag. The pastor held it to his face and kissed it.