Emboldened and motivated by the release of three American citizens held by the North Korean regime, U.S. signaled that it would work hard on bringing other Americans, including a U.S. pastor in Turkey, back home as well.
Amid mounting concerns over how U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s decision to scrap Iran nuclear deal would affect its diplomatic efforts to secure the release of U.S. citizens remain in jail in Iran, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo displayed strong willingness on the matter.
When asked by a journalist that families of four Americans arrested in Iran expressed fresh concerns that the exiting nuclear deal would put “their loved ones at risk,” Pompeo said: “First, everyone should know that this administration is intent on bringing home every American who is held anywhere in the world.”
In the Secretary of State’s determined vow, U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been held in a Turkish prison for more than 18 months, stood out.
“We’ve got Pastor Brunson in Turkey that we desperately need to get back,” Pompeo said.
He added that they [the U.S.] “are working diligently to get each of them back.”
The imprisonment of the pastor has significantly strained relationship between Turkey and the U.S. Last Monday, a court in the western Turkish province of Izmir ruled to keep Pastor Brunson in prison, ignoring the U.S. calls for his release.
He faces charges of conducting espionage on behalf of foreign countries against Turkey, helping the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and being a member of Gulen Movement, a Muslim faith-based civil society group. He faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.