USA and Turkey reach deal to free detained American pastor

NBC News: US Pastor to Be Released After Secret Turkey Deal

USA officials believe they're on the verge of securing the release of Andrew Brunson, the American pastor jailed by Turkey on accusations he helped plot a coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Senior administration officials and a person briefed on the matter told NBC that, according to the agreement, "Brunson is supposed to be released after certain charges against him are dropped at his next court hearing, now scheduled for Friday".

Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years and ran a protestant church in Izmir, was detained in October 2016 and accused of helping those responsible for the failed coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

One senior administration official express skepticism Turkey is going to carry through on its end of the deal Friday, because there had been and agreement to release him before that had fallen through, according to the report.

A Turkish court will rule on Friday on the detention of Andrew Craig Brunson - a U.S. pastor who is at the centre of a diplomatic row between Washington and Ankara.

The deal is said to include a commitment by the U.S.to ease economic pressure on Turkey.

A Turkish official declined to comment on the deal, citing the ongoing judicial process.

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Brunson faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted.

However, Pompeo said in a speech Wednesday to the Jewish Institute for National Security of America he was "very hopeful that before too long Pastor Brunson will, he and his wife will be able to return to the United States".

US President Donald Trump, at the time, tweeted that the US would impose sanctions on Turkey, adding: "This innocent man of faith should be released immediately".

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. "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".

Brunson has been accused of backing outlawed Kurdish rebels and the network led by US -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. "We hope to solve the matters between us as soon as possible and develop ties with the U.S.in politics and the economy once again, in line with the spirit of being strategic partners". Trump then authorized a doubling of existing US steel and aluminum tariffs against Turkey.

The row with the USA has exacerbated pressures on Turkey's lira, which has plunged more than 40 percent this year over concerns about Erdogan's influence on monetary policy, relations with Washington and the central bank's ability to rein in double-digit inflation. Brunson has denied the accusation - as has Gulen - and Washington has demanded his immediate release.

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