U.S. authorities are hopeful American Pastor Andrew Brunson, being held in Turkey on terrorism charges, could be released next month, after authorities in Ankara sent out such signals, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
A Turkish judge could free Brunson when he appears in court Oct. 12, according to Turkish officials, who stressed, however, this would happen only if the U.S. stops pressing the country to do so. Last month, the Trump administration placed sanctions on two top Turkish officials over Brunson's case.
"The best strategy is, right before this October hearing, to be a little bit calm, because they are recognizing finally now that we're willing to act," an American official told the Journal. "Come October, if we're in the same place, our side is going to unload on the Turks. . . . Right now it's a critical time where you don't want to put them in a bind."
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both made securing Brunson's freedom a priority. His case is important among evangelicals, whose votes could be crucial to Republicans keeping their majority in Congress in the midterms.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said over the weekend that no effort is being spared to obtain the release of Brunson, who is being wrongly held, CNS News reported.
American officials warned, however, against any premature celebration, saying previous attempts to release him had collapsed at the last minute.
Complicating matter further, Brunson's lawyer said, in preparation for the October hearing, he has received memos containing new accusations by secret witnesses.
U.S. and Turkish officials added a single tweet from Trump could dash hopes of resolving the case.
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