USA and Turkey reach deal to free detained American pastor

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On Thursday both The Washington Post and NBC News reported a deal had been reached between the United States and Turkey for Mr Brunson's release, citing unnamed sources.

"I'm not able to confirm anything for you other than to say that President's made clear, our administration's made very clear, that we will continue to stand strong until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free and back home in the United States with his family and with his church", he said.

Late on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said releasing Brunson would be the right thing for Turkey to do. It had moved Brunson from prison to house arrest in July.

One of the many areas of friction between Turkey and the United States may finally be resolved, according to a report on Thursday, after a secret deal was apparently stuck for the release of a USA citizen who has been detained for two years.

American Pastor Andrew Brunson, whose detention in Turkey has sparked a tense standoff between Ankara and Washington, will likely be released following a hearing scheduled for Friday, according to his lawyer.

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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.

The details of the deal are unclear, but those familiar with the discussions said it includes a commitment by the ease economic pressure on Turkey.

Brunson, whose possible release was first reported by NBC, has been held since 2016 and his imprisonment led to a rapid decline in relations between Turkey and the USA after President Donald Trump took up his case, and the administration elevated religious freedom as a cause.

The officials cited in the report, however, cautioned that Ankara may not follow through on the purported deal.

The evangelical pastor is accused of terror-related charges and espionage, facing up to 35 years if convicted.

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An American pastor may soon be released after two years of captivity in Turkey.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has led a sustained diplomatic effort to have the pastor released, recently declared that Brunson "should have been released last month", and that he expects "he could be released this month", according to the Financial Times. "We hope to solve the matters between us as soon as possible and develop ties with the politics and the economy once again, in line with the spirit of being strategic partners".

"We remain hopeful that with the court proceeding tomorrow that Turkey will see its way clear and free this good man who is guilty of nothing and who has been incarcerated for several years in Turkey unjustly", the vice-president told reporters at a briefing.

Brunson maintains his innocence and the USA has repeatedly called for his release. Brunson has denied the accusation - as has Gulen - and Washington has demanded his immediate release.

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