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.
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.
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.