Turkey releases Andrew Brunson from custody

Turkey releases Andrew Brunson from custody


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A Turkish prosecutor called for U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson’s release from house arrest on Friday, CNN Turk reports.

This move paves the way for his total release. This development was triggered by the retraction of the testimony of key prosecution witnesses, Hurriyet reports.

Brunson’s release could mean Washington will begin to unwind pressure on the Turkish economy. The lira rose 1.1% against the US dollar and Istanbul’s stock market gained 1,4%.

NBC reported on Thursday that Washington and Ankara were negotiating a release, citing US administration officials.

Brunson is an evangelical US pastor from North Carolina. For more than two decades he is based in Izmir, running the Resurrection Church.  Turkish authorities accused Brunson of links to the movement of the Philadelphia-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, as well as the Kurdish PKK. If he were convicted, he would be facing 35 years in prison.

Brunson’s arrest has triggered a negative bilateral spiral between Washington and Ankara. Vice President Mike Pence has been particularly vocal on the case. On his personal Twitter account, President Donald Trump called Brunson’s arrest a “total disgrace”

But, there was some de-escalation of rhetoric in recent days. In remarks to the Jewish Institute for National Security of America on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referred to Brunson’s situation calling for his release.

Washington is also seeking the release of NASA scientist Serkan Golge and employees of the U.S. mission in Turkey.

President Recept Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly stated that he would abide by the court’s decision on the case, whichever that may be.

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