'Total Disgrace': Trump Demands Erdoğan Release American Pastor
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to release jailed American pastor Andrew Brunson. Brunson was denied release in his latest trial hearing. Turkish authorities have charged him with terrorism.
"A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected U.S. Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison," Trump tweeted. "He has been held hostage far too long."
Trump addressed Erdoğan directly, adding, "Erdoğan should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father. He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!"
Brunson has been imprisoned for more than 500 days, and many human rights organizations have called for his release. In June, 85 senators voted to block the sale of F-35 jets to Turkey, citing a deal with Russia as well as the detention of Brunson. Despite Congress' opposition, the first F-35 jet arrived in Turkey last month.
For his part, Erdoğan has offered to release Brunson if Trump hands over Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric based in the U.S. whom the Turkish president has blamed for a coup attempt against him in 2016.