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

Israel freed Turkish detainee at Trump's request, official says
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NIR ELIAS(Reuters)
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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel freed an alleged Turkish militant following a request from U.S. 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 Islamist 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 Trump asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a July 14 phone call to let Ozkan go in a "trade" for Andrew Brunson, a U.S. 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.

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.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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