Freed American pastor Andrew Brunson arrived at the White House Saturday to meet with President Trump in the Oval Office, a day after his release from house arrest in Turkey.
Brunson, from North Carolina, flew to Germany Friday for a medical checkup at a U.S. military hospital before flying on to the U.S. He had rejected the charges against him and maintained his innocence. On Saturday shortly after noon E.T., an aircraft carrying Brunson landed at Joint Base Andrews.
Brunson was imprisoned in October 2016 due to his alleged ties to an outlawed group as part of a crackdown on a failed coup in Turkey against President Recep Erdogan’s government.
A Turkish judge on Friday ordered him freed from house arrest on Friday after sentencing him to time served on terror and treason charges. Trump, in a tweet, thanked Erdogan “for his help” and said he would meet Brunson Saturday afternoon in the Oval Office.
“It will be wonderful to see and meet him. He is a great Christian who has been through such a tough experience,” Trump tweeted.
He also said that while there was “great appreciation” and a hope of good relations between the U.S. and Turkey, but there was “no deal” made for Brunson’s return.
“There was NO DEAL made with Turkey for the release and return of Pastor Andrew Brunson. I don’t make deals for hostages,” he tweeted. “There was, however, great appreciation on behalf of the United States, which will lead to good, perhaps great, relations between the United States & Turkey!”
The Trump administration advocated persistently for Brunson’s release, leading to an intense economic showdown between the two NATO allies. In August, the U.S. slapped sanctions on an array of Turkish officials and on some goods, sending Turkish currency into freefall.