U.S. President Donald Trump has reiterated the United States did not negotiate a deal with Turkey for the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson.
“We had no deal with Turkey,” Trump said Monday at the White House. “I feel much differently about Turkey today than I felt about them two days ago. I have a very good feeling toward Turkey, two days ago, I did not.”
Evangelical Christian minister Andrew Brunson had been imprisoned in Turkey for two years before his release last week.
The freeing of Brunson marked the end of a bitter diplomatic dispute between Washington and Ankara. Brunson was facing 35 years in jail if he had been convicted on terrorism and espionage charges, allegations Washington called baseless.
Asked by VOA on Friday what had led to Brunson’s release, Trump said, “We spoke to Turkey, and he went through a system and we got him out. We’ve been trying to get him out for a long time.”
Trump, partly in retaliation for Brunson’s prosecution, slapped Turkey with trade tariffs in August. The action led to the collapse of Turkey’s currency.
Brunson had lived in Turkey since the 1990s.