In his efforts to release American pastor, Trump asked Netanyahu to release female Turkish terrorist
Report: In his efforts to release Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey, President trump asked Prime Minister Netanyahu if he would release Turkish terrorist Ebru Ozkan, a Muslima arrested in Israel on terror charges. The day after Ozkan was deported from Israel.
The deal apparently fell apart on Wednesday, when a Turkish court, rather than sending the pastor home, ordered that he be transferred to house arrest while his trial continues.
Thursday morning, after a rancorous phone call with Erdogan, Trump struck back. The United States “will impose large sanctions” on Turkey, he tweeted. “This innocent man of faith should be released immediately.”
Vice President Pence said in a speech that Turkey must free Brunson now “or be prepared to face the consequences.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called his counterpart in Ankara.
The Turks, according to a Trump adviser, had cheated by “upping the ante” for Brunson. While the exact Turkish terms are unknown, Ankara has a long list of complaints, including the U.S. failure to extradite the Turkish citizen it considers responsible for a failed 2016 coup attempt, the U.S. investigation of a Turkish state-run bank for violating Iran sanctions, and attempts by Congress to prevent delivery of F-35 fighter jets that Turkey has already purchased.
Several U.S. officials and other people familiar with the situation insisted that there had been no misunderstanding of the terms of the deal.
“Turkey missed a real opportunity. Pastor Brunson is not a bargaining chip,” said a White House official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity about what has quickly become a major diplomatic incident with potentially wide-ranging ramifications.