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
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.
"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.
Updated: July 27, 2018 02:19 PM