Trump says Turkey has released a U.S. prisoner - The Hill

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that Turkey had released a U.S. prisoner and the man would be released fairly soon, The Hill reported.

Though Trump did not identify the individual, he probably was talking about the former NASA scientist Serkan Gölge, who released from İskenderun Prison in south Turkey on Wednesday evening.

The U.S. president thanked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while speaking to reporters on his way to Colorado to deliver a commencement address at the Air Force Academy.

"He was great," The Hill quoted Trump as saying of his Turkish counterpart. "They released this prisoner, hostage, whatever you want to call him. He’s at home custody in Turkey. He’ll be released fairly soon.”

Trump last year announced sanctions on two Turkish ministers and doubled up tariffs on Turkish metals, during a diplomatic spat over the almost two-year detention of an American pastor. The move prompted a currency crisis, during which Turkish lira hit record low in August.

The lira, which dropped by almost one-third against the dollar in 2018, slides a further 14 percent this year. Following Gölge’s release, it jumped nearly 1.5 percent on Thursday over expectation that ties between Ankara and Washington would improve. Turkish lira was down to 5.8767 per dollar at 20:00 p.m. local time in Istanbul.

The currency had shed as much as 14% this year due in part to growing friction between the NATO allies and the risk that delivery of the Russian-made surface-to-air weapon would trigger U.S. sanctions.

Trump and Erdoğan spoke on the phone on Wednesday and discussed several issues, including the possibility of a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka Japan, next month.

The presidents also discussed Turkey’s planned purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems, which has been a source of heightened tensions between Ankara and Washington in recent months.

The United States pressures Turkey to cancel or postpone the accusation of Russian systems, over concerns that the systems are not compatible with NATO equipment and may compromise its Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.

CNBC reported last week that Washington gave Turkey until the end of the first week in June to either cancel its acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile system and buy U.S.-made Patriots or risk expulsion from the F-35 program, U.S. sanctions and possible blowback from NATO.