Andrew Brunson: Hopes rising as US pastor due to court

NBC News: US Pastor to Be Released After Secret Turkey Deal

Pastor Andrew Brunson is expected to be released within the coming days, according to two senior Trump administration officials briefed on the matter.

News reports, citing senior administration officials and an individual briefed on the matter, that "under an agreement recently reached with Turkey, Brunson is supposed to be released after certain charges against him are dropped at his next court hearing".

He added that the Trump administration had "made it clear that we will continue to stand strong until Pastor Brunson is free". Despite being moved to house arrest in July after increasing pressure from the U.S. government, the pastor remains under the control of the authorities.

According to the NBC report, Trump administration officials aren't "fully confident" that Turkey will actually go through with the agreement.

That hearing is now scheduled for Friday.

The authorities accuse him of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Gulenist movement, which Turkey blames for a 2016 failed coup.

While Brunson's lawyer, Haravut, said he was optimistic about Friday's hearing, he told Yahoo News he was not aware of any deal securing Brunson's release.

Trump slapped Turkey with economic sanctions in August over Brunson's imprisonment.

In a Middle East Eye report in late September, Turkish and U.S. officials said they were working to free Brunson.

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Andrew Craig Brunson, 50, who is backed by the White House in his contention the charges have been manufactured for political purposes, was arrested in December 2016 after serving more than two decades in Turkey.

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

However, US Vice-President Mike Pence would only say "we remain hopeful".

Brunson faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted.

"President Trump has had a focus on it, the administration has had a focus on it, and we're very hopeful that we'll see a good outcome before too long", Pompeo told the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. "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".

Turkey and the US have faced rocky relations following Washington's imposition of sanctions over Brunson's detention.

The row with the United States has exacerbated pressures on Turkey's lira, which has plunged more than 40 percent this year over concerns about Erdogan's influence on monetary policy, relations with Washington and the central bank's ability to rein in double-digit inflation.

The U.S. has sanctioned Turkish government ministers in response to their treatment of Brunson.

He has denied the accusations.

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