New prosecution witnesses expected to testify on Friday in the Turkish trial of a U.S. Christian pastor on terrorism charges lack relevance as their testimony will focus on incidents after Andrew Brunson's arrest, his lawyer said.
Under an agreement senior Trump administration officials recently reached with Turkey, Brunson is supposed to be released after certain charges against him are dropped at his next court hearing, now scheduled for Friday, the senior administration officials and a person briefed on the matter said.
Brunson's charges include spying for the PKK - listed as a terrorist group by both the US and Turkey - and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) - the group behind the defeated coup attempt in Turkey of July 2016.
If the court lifts Brunson's house arrest order on Friday and doesn't impose a new travel ban, he will be free to leave the country.
"The Trump administration, however, isn't fully confident that Turkey will follow through with the Brunson agreement because Ankara was close to a commitment to release him several months ago but did not", the outlet reported Thursday, citing a senior administration official.
A Turkish court will rule on Friday on the detention of Andrew Craig Brunson - a USA pastor who is at the centre of a diplomatic row between Washington and Ankara. The indictment against Brunson also charges him with having contact with Kurdish separatists that Turkey and the United States have designated as terrorists. NBC reported the news, citing the White House sources who added that the U.S. will ease economic pressure on Turkey as part of the deal.
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The case against Brunson, an evangelical preacher from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years, has become the flashpoint in a diplomatic row between Ankara and Washington, triggering U.S. tariffs against Turkey and condemnation from U.S. President Donald Trump.
Brunson has been held for nearly two years trumped-up on wide-ranging charges of conspiring to overthrow the Turkish government.
"I'm very hopeful that before too long, Pastor Brunson will - he and his wife will be able to return to the United States", Pompeo said at an awards dinner for the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. That was echoed by Vice President Mike Pence, who declined to confirm any deal, but voiced hope Brunson would be released. "President Trump has had a focus on it, the administration's had a focus on it, and we're very hopeful that we'll see a good outcome before too long".
The U.S. and Mr. Brunson deny he had anything to do with it.
Officials remained cautious, however, in light of a deal that fell apart last summer, with both sides blaming each other for acting in bad faith.
"Our strategic partnership, which has gone through difficulties so many times, will overcome this turbulent period", Erdogan said during an address at an investment conference held by the Turkey-US Business Council, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency.