Department Press Briefing
Washington, DC -July 18, 2018
QUESTION: And if I could ask you a question about Turkey today, that the Turkish court rejected Pastor Andrew Brunson’s appeal to be released from prison – what’s your response to that?
MS NAUERT: I can tell you we have obviously been very closely engaged in Pastor Brunson’s case and with the Turkish Government on that case in particular. We’ve not seen any credible evidence against Pastor Brunson that he’s guilty of the crimes that the Turkish Government accuses him of. The case against him is built on anonymous sources, accusations, and a lot of speculation. It’s a concern of ours. We believe that he is innocent. We continue to call on the Turkish Government to quickly resolve his case in a timely and transparent and fair manner. I can tell you that our charge, Phil Kosnett, was – as well as other U.S. embassy officials – were present at the proceedings on the 18th for Pastor Brunson. If we have anything more for you, we’ll certainly let you know.
QUESTION: Wait, so you’re not calling for him to be – for his release?
MS NAUERT: Well, we always call for the pastor’s release. We would certainly like that to happen.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, at the NATO summit just last week, the President of the United States fist bumped President Erdogan and said keep up the good work and all this kind of thing. How is this –
MS NAUERT: This is something we are actively involved with and care deeply about. You may not see all the actions, activities, conversations the United States Government is having on behalf of American citizens, so I’m not going to be able to say anything more to you on that. Okay. Matt, I’m not going to be able to answer for everything that every – whether it’s the President or whether it’s Secretary Mattis or somebody else, I’m not going to be able to answer for that. I don’t –
QUESTION: Well, then I just wonder if that plays into the kind of kid gloves treatment that you’re giving to the Turks right now. Previous statements have been very hard.
MS NAUERT: I don’t think so, Matt. We have followed this case extremely closely.
MS NAUERT: Members of Congress are also following this closely. I can tell you it’s something that the Secretary cares deeply about, especially one’s religious freedom. We do have a religious freedom ministerial that’s coming up next week that is important to the Secretary.