The Daily Caller | 052718
An American pastor facing trial in Turkey on allegations of aiding terrorist groups is “a totally innocent man,” President Donald Trump said Saturday.
“We have Pastor [Andrew] Brunson, a wonderful Christian pastor, and he’s right now in Turkey. He’s been there a long time. And they say he’s a spy, but he’s not a spy,” Trump said during a meeting in the Oval Office.
Trump made the remarks — his most direct to date about Brunson — during a meeting to celebrate the release of Joshua Holt, a Utah man who was jailed in Venezuela in 2016 after being accused of being a CIA spy. Holt, 26, had traveled to Venezuela to marry a woman he met online.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch worked for two years to secure Holt’s release.
Trump, who secured the release of three American hostages in North Korea earlier this month, said his administration is also fighting hard for Brunson, who the Turkish government has also accused of being a CIA spy.
“Pastor Brunson — I hope you can hear us — we’ll be helping you at some point. We’ve been working on it for a while. He’s been there a long time, and he’s a totally innocent man,” Trump said.
“We’re going to all work, and we’ve been working for his release. He’s having a hard time. There’s a trial going on, but the trial is not so much of a trial. And we’re talking to the folks in Turkey about doing something about it,” the president added.