WASHINGTON, DC — President Donald Trump ignited a tempest online for clarifying that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been “very good” to him, while talking to a Christian pastor who had been imprisoned by Erdogan, during the first night of the Republican National Convention, mediaite.com reports.

In a pre-taped panel where Trump spoke with several people that his administration had negotiated their release, Trump turned to Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was held over one year in a Turkish prison without charges. The Erdogan government accused him of being a spy for a Kurdish resistance group. After an attempted 2016 ouster of his regime, Erdogan instituted a widespread crackdown on thousands of alleged conspirators, often imprisoning them based on little to no evidence.

That Trump would take time out of a hostage’s story to actually praise the man who falsely jailed him for years — feeding a criticism that he coddles dictators like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un — elicited prompt backlash and bitter bafflement.

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