American pastor is back in the U.S. after 2 years of detention in Turkey

Last Updated Oct 13, 2018 1:20 PM EDT

American pastor Andrew Brunson is back in the United States after two years of detention in Turkey, according to a tweet by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. Perkins said Saturday he landed at a military base outside Washington with Brunson and Brunson’s wife, Norine.

“They are thankful to be safely home in the USA. Under this administration being an American means something!” Perkins wrote on Twitter.

President Trump is set to meet with Brunson Saturday afternoon at the White House.

Earlier Saturday, Mr. Trump tweeted about Brunson‘s release. He praised Brunson and said no deal was made with Turkey to secure his freedom. 

“Pastor Andrew Brunson, released by Turkey, will be with me in the Oval Office at 2:30 P.M. (this afternoon),” Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday morning. “It will be wonderful to see and meet him. He is a great Christian who has been through such a tough experience.”

Mr. Trump said in a second tweet, “I don’t make deals for hostages. There was, however, great appreciation on behalf of the United States, which will lead to good, perhaps great, relations between the United States & Turkey!”

Brunson was a pastor at a small evangelical church in Izmir, Turkey. He was detained in October 2016 and held on charges related to espionage and terrorism. On Friday, a court sentenced him to just over three years in prison but let him go for time served in detention. He was sentenced for allegedly helping terror groups.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted a response to Mr. Trump, saying that “as I always pointed out, the Turkish judiciary reached its decision independently.” He continued: “I hope that the United States and Turkey will continue their cooperation as the allies that they are, and fight together against terrorist groups.”

His release is a victory for Mr. Trump, who has been assiduously courting evangelical Christian voters throughout his campaign and time in office.

After his release on Friday, Brunson flew to Germany for medical care. 

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