Freed rev. prays with Pres­i­dent

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY LEONARD GREENE

A faith­ful Amer­i­can pas­tor freed af­ter two years in a Turk­ish pri­son dropped to a knee in the Oval Of­fice on Satur­day and prayed with Pres­i­dent Trump.

Af­ter thank­ing Trump and a host of dig­ni­taries for his lon­gawaited re­lease, the Rev. An­drew Brun­son (bot­tom with Trump), sur­rounded by fam­ily and White House staff, knelt be­side the Pres­i­dent and prayed for his ad­min­is­tra­tion, the coun­try and pris­on­ers around the world.

“I ask that you give him wis­dom on how to lead this coun­try into right­eous­ness,” Brun­son, who had pa­s­tored a church in Tur­key for 20 years, said in his prayer. “I ask you to pro­tect him from slan­der from en­e­mies. Fill him with your wis­dom and strength and per­se­ver­ance.”

Trump had joked mo­ments ear­lier that he prob­a­bly needed the prayer more than any­one else in the room.

Brun­son, 50, who lived in Tur­key with his wife and three chil­dren, was ar­rested in 2016 by the gov­ern­ment, which had ac­cused him of hav­ing links with the out­lawed Kur­dis­tan Work­ers' Party and the Gu­lenist move­ment, which Tur­key blames for a 2016 failed coup.

In July, he was re­leased from pri­son for health rea­sons and moved to house ar­rest un­til his trial. A few weeks later, the U.S. im­posed sanc­tions on Tur­key's jus­tice and in­te­rior min­is­ters over his con­tin­ued de­ten­tion.

A Turk­ish court sen­tenced Brun­son on Fri­day to three years be­hind bars, but freed him be­cause of the time he had al­ready spent in de­ten­tion.

“From a Turk­ish pri­son to the White House in 24 hours, that's not bad,” Trump said.

The is­sue strained TurkeyU.S. re­la­tions, but Trump ex­pressed hope the two coun­tries could get back on track.

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