Report: Trump asked PM to free Turkish suspect
Washington Post report cites official 'familiar' with a failed deal in which US president personally asked Netanyahu to free suspected Hamas-collaborator Ebru Ozkan to secure release of US Pastor Andrew Brunson who has been detained in Turkey for 2 years.
Israel released Ebru Ozkan after a judge ruled that the evidence against her was weak. However, the Washington Post details the alleged political maneuvering that led to her release.
Trump reportedly struck a deal with Turkey that would see Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested in October 2016 and stands accused of espionage, returned to the US in exchange for Israel’s release of Ozkan.
“The deal was a carom shot, personally sealed by Trump, to trade a Turkish citizen imprisoned on terrorism charges in Israel for Brunson’s release,” the report says.
The report adds that on July 14, after traveling from the NATO gathering to his golf club in Scotland, Trump called Netanyahu to discuss what the Israeli premier described as “security and diplomatic issues arising from regional developments, chiefmost among them, of course, Syria and Iran.”
However, the report says that Turkey was also the subject of that conversation.
“Trump, according to a person familiar with the subsequent deal, asked his Israeli ally if he would release Ebru Ozkan, a 27-year-old Turkish woman who was detained in Israel on charges of acting as a smuggler for Hamas,” it says.
The day after Trump and Netanyahu spoke, Ozkan was deported from Israel. Officials in Jerusalem have refused to comment on the alleged deal.
Angered by the fact that the agreement apparently failed on Wednesday when a Turkish court ordered that Brunson be placed under house arrest rather than be sent back to the US, Trump announced that the United States will impose sanctions on its NATO ally Turkey.
Shortly after the possibility of sanctions was first announced by Vice President Mike Pence Thursday, Trump wrote on Twitter that the US "will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson."
"He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!" the president added from aboard Air Force One as he flew to Iowa for an event.