Israel freed Turkish detainee at Trump's request, Israeli official says
JERUSALEM - Reuters
Turkish citizen Ebru Özkan, who was arrested in Israel on June 11, arrived in Turkey early July 16.
Israel freed an alleged Turkish militant following a request from U.S. President Donald Trump, an Israeli official said on July 27 after the Washington Post reported that the deal was part of a failed White House bid to get Ankara to release an American detainee.
Israel deported Ebru Özkan on July 15, a week after indicting her for ties to the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas - charges her lawyer denied. She had been arrested by Israel while on a tourist visa in June. Her case angered Turkey.
The Washington Post reported on July 26 that Trump asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a July 14 phone call to let Özkan go in a "trade" for Andrew Brunson, a U.S. pastor who has spent 21 months in Turkish detention.
"I can confirm that there was such a request by President Trump," an Israeli official said on condition of anonymity.
Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was indicted on charges of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which Ankara blames for the failed coup in 2016. He was transferred to house arrest on July 25.