“Earlier today we secured the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson,” Trump said to applause. The pastor, he said, is “free from jail” and is “in the air” on his way to Germany, where he will undergo a “brief check.”
“He’s coming to Washington, DC, tomorrow, and we’ll say hello,” Trump said, adding, “He went through a lot. You know all about Pastor Brunson … and he’s on his way back.”
Earlier in the day, Trump said he thinks Brunson is in “good shape,” and that “We’re very honored to have him back with us.”
“He suffered greatly,” Trump said. “But we’re very appreciative to a lot of people, a lot of people.”
Brunson was detained in October 2016 after an attempted military coup failed. His detention soured relations between the US and Turkey.
The Turkish court on Friday sentenced Brunson to three years and one month in prison, but chose to release him based on his time already served, as well as his manner during the proceedings, his lawyer said. Prosecutors had been seeking a 10-year jail term.
Brunson was moved to house arrest in July and given a travel ban, which had been seen as a move toward his potential release.
Brunson, a native of North Carolina, worked as an evangelical Presbyterian pastor at Izmir Resurrection Church.
He has lived in Turkey for more than 23 years with his wife and three children, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, which had advocated for his release.