Pastor Andrew Brunson was sentenced to decades in prison by Erdogan’s regime.
Donald Trump on Monday night told a man who had been held hostage in Turkey for two years that the Turkish leader who imprisoned him was “very good.”
During the first night of the Republican National Convention, Trump spoke at the White house with several former hostages whom his administration had helped release. One of the participants was Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor who was put in a Turkish prison in 2016 on spying charges.
Brunson was arrested and sentenced to decades in jail by brutal Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. Vice President Mike Pence has called Brunson an “innocent man of faith,” saying there was in fact “no credible evidence against him” to support Turkish officials’ charges of spying.
Turkey eventually agreed to release Brunson in 2018.
Trump on Monday night first bragged of his own accomplishments in securing the hostages’ release, saying, “We worked very hard on it, Ambassador [Robert] O’Brien and others. And I will tell you — we’re very proud of the job we did.”
Then he invited Brunson to briefly tell his story.
Brunson noted that he had been “held in Turkey” and that Trump “took unprecedented steps, actually, to secure my release.”
Trump responded bewilderingly, calling Erdogan “very good.”
From the first night of the 2020 Republican National Convention:
Donald Trump: 28 years, right? They had you scheduled for a long time, Andrew. We had to get you back.
And I have to say that, to me, President Erdogan was very good.
I know they had you scheduled for a long time are you were a very innocent person. And he, ultimately after we had a few conversations, he agreed. So we appreciate that and we appreciate the people of Turkey.
And you still appreciate the people of Turkey, I understand, right?