WASHINGTON – American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was released on Friday after spending two years in a Turkish prison, is scheduled to arrive in the United States on Saturday at around noon, and will “probably” meet soon afterward with US President Donald Trump, the White House said.
Brunson has already left Turkish airspace and, after making a stop in Germany for a medical check-up, he is expected to land at around 12:00 pm on Saturday at Andrews Air Force Base, in the outskirts of Washington, DC, White House spokesman Judd Deere said.
Trump told journalists in Cincinnati that he will “probably” meet with Brunson on Saturday in the Oval Office.
“We’re very honored to have him back with us. He suffered greatly,” Trump said.
The president said that there “was no deal at all” with Turkish authorities to ensure Brunson’s release, after several media outlets reported that Washington had agreed to lift the sanctions against Ankara that it imposed in August in connection with the pastor’s case.
Trump said that he believed Brunson was “in good shape,” while celebrating his release as “good news.”
A court in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city, convicted Brunson on Friday of aiding terrorism and sentenced him to three years, but ordered him freed based on the time he had already spent in custody, allowing him to leave the country.
Brunson’s case raised tensions between Ankara and Washington, especially since July, when the Trump administration made his release a central concern.
In August, the White House imposed sanctions against Turkish Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül and against Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu for their role in Brunson’s arrest.
The rise in tensions even contributed to the depreciation of the Turkish Lira in August.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Turkey via Twitter to “quickly release our other detained U.S. citizens,” a message that was reiterated by White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
“We remain deeply concerned about the continued detention of other United States citizens in Turkey and around the world, and urge the resolution of all these cases in a transparent and fair manner,” Sanders said in a statement, while expressing Washington’s disposition to work with Turkey to address regional security issues.