Izmir: American pastor Andrew Brunson, freed by a Turkish court after two years in detention, has flown out of Turkey and is set to be received by President Donald Trump at the White House.
Brunson, whose detention caused a crisis in ties with Washington, flew out of Adnan Menderes airport in the Aegean city of Izmir on an American military plane bound for the US Ramstein airbase in Germany on Friday, his lawyer Cem Halavurt told AFP, adding he would then continue to the United States.
Trump, who had applied intense pressure on Turkey to release the pastor, said he would receive Brunson shortly after he arrives in the United States.
“Good news, Pastor Brunson is in the air,” Trump told reporters as he arrived in Cincinnati for election campaigning. “He is coming to the Oval Office, most likely on Saturday.”
The Trump administration imposed tariffs on Turkey and sanctioned two senior ministers to free Brunson, whose case has became a cause celebre for the president’s conservative Christian base.
Trump denied a report by NBC News that he had agreed to ease pressure on Turkey in return for Brunson’s release.
“We spoke to Turkey and went through a system,” Trump said. “There was no deal at all. There was no deal.” Media were not allowed to accompany Brunson into the airport lounge but saw him arriving earlier at the airport arm-in-arm with his wife Norine, waving at reporters while surrounded by security.
State-run Anadolu news agency confirmed Brunson had taken off, saying he was expected to stop in Germany before heading home