Freed pastor Brunson leaves Turkey, due in US Saturday

Asked if U.S. sanctions imposed on Turkey to try to win Brunson’s release might be lifted, Trump said no agreement was made for the pastor’s freedom.

“There was no deal made at all. There was no deal. But we’re very happy to have him and have him in good shape.” Trump told reporters in Cincinnati.

The diplomatic fight over Brunson had accelerated a recent sell-off in Turkey’s currency, worsening its financial crisis.

‘GREAT CHRISTIAN’

Dressed in a black suit, white shirt and red tie, Brunson wept as the court decision was announced, witnesses said. Before the judge’s ruling, he had told the court: “I am an innocent man. I love Jesus. I love Turkey.”

Witnesses told the court in the western town of Aliaga that testimony against the pastor attributed to them was inaccurate.

Brunson’s mother told Reuters she and his father were elated at the news. “We are overjoyed that God has answered the prayers of so many people around the world,” she said by telephone from her home in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Trump has used the Brunson case to try to score points with evangelical Christians, a large part of his political base, ahead of the Nov. 6 congressional elections, which will determine whether Republicans keep control of Congress.

He has called Brunson, a native of North Carolina, a “great Christian”, and Vice President Mike Pence, the White House’s top emissary to evangelicals, had urged Americans to pray for Brunson.

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