Either Donald Trump got his deal, or this is a remarkable coincidence. After two years of imprisonment over charges of abetting terrorism — and at the center of an international battle between two supposed allies — a court in Turkey convicted Pastor Andrew Brunson on the charges. And then they let him go:
A Turkish court effectively freed American pastor Andrew Brunson on Friday after he spent nearly two years in jail and more time under house arrest on charges related to terrorism and espionage. Brunson had become entangled in a diplomatic dispute between Turkey and the United States and American officials had hoped that the fourth hearing in Turkey’s case against him would result in his release.
The court in the city of Aliaga found Brunson guilty and sentenced him to three years in prison, but released him on time served, based on a prosecutor’s recommendation. That move will allow him to leave the country.
Turkey’s government had faced threats of further U.S. sanctions over its treatment of the pastor, who denies all charges against him, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had insisted that the Turkish judicial system be allowed to proceed.
Erdogan had wanted to get a trade from Trump to free Brunson for Fethullah Gulen, the anti-Erdogan cleric living in the US. At times, Erdogan made that exchange an explicit demand. In the end, though, Gulen seems safely ensconced in the US while Brunson has gone free.