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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

Israel freed Turkish detainee at Donald Trump's request, official says

The release of Ebru Ozkan was reportedly a 'trade' for US pastor Andrew Brunson 

Turkish citizen, Ebru Ozkan, was arrested at an Israeli airport last month. Reuters 
Turkish citizen, Ebru Ozkan, was arrested at an Israeli airport last month. Reuters 

Israel freed an alleged Turkish militant following a request from US President Donald Trump, an Israeli official said on Friday 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 Ozkan on July 15, a week after indicting her for ties to the Palestinian 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 Thursday that Mr Trump asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a July 14 phone call to let Ms Ozkan go in a "trade" for Andrew Brunson, a US pastor who has spent 21 months in Turkish detention.

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"I can confirm that there was such a request by President Trump," an Israeli official said on condition of anonymity.

Mr Brunson, who denies charges of links to a group Ankara says was behind a failed 2016 coup, was moved to house arrest on Wednesday - prompting the Trump administration to threaten sanctions against NATO-power Turkey.

A senior Turkish official said on Friday that reports of a trade were "completely baseless".

Israel arrested Ebru Ozkan while she was visiting as a tourist last month. On July 8, it indicted her in a security court for ties to Hamas, charges her lawyer denied and which angered Turkey. She was deported a week later.

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