04:01 GMT +317 December 2018
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    U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife Norrine arrive at the airport in Izmir

    US Pastor Brunson Departs for US From Turkey's Izmir Airport - Reports

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    ANKARA (Sputnik) - After US pastor Andrew Brunson’s electronic tag was taken off he went back to his Turkish home and soon departed for Izmir's Adnan Menderes Airport, the NTV news channel reported.

    Reuters, citing a witness, reports that a private jet with Brunson on board took off from Izmir's Airport on Friday evening. Brunson's lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt told reporters his client would fly from Turkey to the US via Germany, where he will stay for two days and then travel to the United States.

    Brunson was arrested in Turkey in 2016 over his alleged links to the movement of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.The attorney praised President Donald Trump, members of his administration and Congress for applying significant pressure to ensure Brunson’s release.

    Trump announced in a Twitter message earlier in the day that the American pastor has been released and will be home soon

    Pastor Brunson said in a statement before he left Turkey that he was grateful to Trump for his efforts in securing his release. He also said he was looking forward to coming back to the United States and being able to reunite with his family.

    The cleric’s arrest soured relations between the two NATO allies and led to hefty tariffs on Turkish metals in summer, which sent the Turkish national currency tumbling to a record low. Ankara retaliated by raising duties on some US goods.

    READ MORE: White House: US Not Removing Tariffs on Turkey Even if Pastor Brunson Released

    On Thursday, media reported that the United States and Turkey struck a secret deal to have the pastor released in exchange of Washington easing economic pressure on Turkey.

    Related:

    Turkey’s Court Rule on Pastor Brunson Proves Judiciary Independence - Official
    Turkish Court Frees US Pastor Brunson After Two-Year Detention
    Brunson's Attorney Appeals to Top Turkish Court for Pastor's Release - Reports
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    departure, flight, airport, Andrew Brunson, Turkey, United States, Izmir
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