A new book detailing the foreign policy of US President Donald Trump revealed how he pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to release a Turkish citizen detained in Israel for aiding Hamas.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said the book, written by the Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, details the deal concluded between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Trump at a NATO summit in Brussels in early July 2018.
According to the book, Erdogan asked Trump to help release a Turkish citizen detained in Israel, Ebru Özkan, on charges of smuggling money and a mobile phone to Hamas in return for releasing American evangelical pastor, Andrew Brunson, who was being held in Turkey on charges of helping the group that staged the failed 2016 coup.
“On July 14, while Trump spent the weekend at his golf resort in Scotland, he decided in the middle of playing a round to call Netanyahu. His aides brought a secure phone out to the front nine. Trump leaned into the Israeli prime minister and asked him to release Özkan,” the authors said.
“The next day, July 15, Özkan was released. She flew from Israel to Istanbul, where she was met by reporters and professed gratitude for Erdogan,” the book said.
However, “on July 18, a Turkish court rejected appeals to release Brunson and set another court date for October. At the White House, where the president had just returned from his European trip, officials were taken aback. Trump tweeted that the Turkish court’s decision was a “total disgrace”.
Brunson was released in October 2018.