President Donald Trump has said he felt personally let down by President Recep TayyipErdoğan over his refusal to release an American evangelical pastor after the U.S. had helped a Turkish citizen detained in Israel.
“I’m disappointed in him,” Trump said on Aug. 30 in an Oval Office interview with Bloomberg News, after initially declining to comment because the episode was “too dear to my heart.”
“I got somebody back for him,” Trump said. “I’m very disappointed in him, but we’ll see how it all works out.”
The continued detention of Brunson has become a lightning rod in strained relations between Turkey and the U.S., leading Washington to slap economic and political sanctions on its NATO ally.
Brunson, who has been living in Turkey for more than two decades, was accused of helping supporters of the U.S.-based Fethullah Gülen who Turkish authorities say masterminded the 2016 coup attempt in which 250 people were killed.
He was also charged with supporting the illegal PKK, which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S.
The pastor was moved from prison to house arrest on July 25.