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10/12/2018 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – United State officials believe that they are close to securing the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been imprisoned for two years in Turkey on what many believe are false charges. In October 2016, Brunson, a Christian leader of a Protestant church in Turkey, and his wife were summoned to a police station were they believed they were going to renew their resident visas. Instead, Brunson and his wife, Norine were arrested by the Turkish police.

Norine was released after 13 days of detention on October 19, but Brunson remained in detention. Brunson was charged with having links to terrorist organizations, an increasingly common accusation in Turkey against any individual or group that the government is looking to target.

Brunson arrived in court today, followed by his wife in a U.S. diplomatic vehicle, to hopefully be released from prison. Three judges will either release him of all charges and lift the travel ban placed on him, allowing him to return home to the United States, or he could be charged and face up to 35 years in a Turkish prison.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, stated in September that he believed that this would be the month Brunson would be freed, which he indicated again on Wednesday just two days prior to the hearing. Pompeo claimed that, “President Trump has had a focus on it [and] the administration’s had a focus on it. We’re very hopeful that we’ll see a good outcome before too long.”

The United States has been in support of the release of Brunson, threatening the Turkish government that they will place further sanctions on Turkey if the pastor is not released. Although, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert states that she was “not aware of any such deals” claiming “there is a legal process to play out.

Regardless, since the arrest of Brunson, the relationship between the United States and Turkey has certainly decreased. If Brunson’s release does not happen today and he remains under Turkish authority, there is no doubt the tension between the two countries will rise.

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