October 13, 2018

This is VOA news. I'm Tommie McNeil.

American Pastor Andrew Brunson is now a free man, and according to U.S. President Trump he is on his way back to the United States.

This is after Turkish court convicted Brunson of terror charges but ruled that the two years he had already spent detained means he will not serve additional time and it's free to leave the country.

The detention of Andrew Brunson sparked a diplomatic standoff between Ankara and Washington.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday he will still attend a large investment conference in Saudi Arabia later this month in the face of growing evidence that a Saudi journalist was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Meantime, as AP's Ben Thomas reports, the fiancée of the journalist is urging President Trump to use his clout to find out what exactly happened to her partner.

"What about Jamal Khashoggi?" That's what the Saudi writer's fiancée tweeted in response to President Trump's announcement that Turkey was freeing an American pastor.

Jamal Khashoggi vanished 10 days ago after he walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He was there to pick up documents he needed to get married and his fiancée was waiting outside.

Saudi Arabia denies he was abducted or harmed, maintaining he left the consulate and then vanished.

Yesterday, Trump called U.S.-Saudi relations "excellent" and said he doesn't want to scuttle highly lucrative arms deals with the kingdom.

Ben Thomas, Washington.

An Israeli court Friday rejected the appeal of a U.S. student who has been barred from entering Israel because of alleged involvement in a Palestinian-led boycott movement against the Jewish state.

Lara Alqasem has until Sunday to decide whether to appeal her case to the Israeli Supreme Court or leave the country.

She is 22 and arrived in Israel on October 2 with a valid student visa to pursue her graduate studies at Israel's Hebrew University.

More at voanews.com. This is VOA news.

Residents and rescue workers in the state of Florida and other southeastern U.S. states were in the midst of recovering Friday from the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Michael, and the remnants of which have moved out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Before it swept out to sea, Michael claimed at least 11 lives after making landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 Hurricane in the Florida Panhandle and then churned north through Georgia, the Carolinas and the state of Virginia as a tropical storm.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper: "We saw wind gusts of almost 70 miles an hour in the Outer Banks, rain totaling almost 10 inches in Allegheny County and most things in between."

Emergency personnel scoured through the areas where entire blocks of homes and buildings were flattened and searched for survivors.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who is linked to the sexual abuse and cover-up of scandals in the Catholic Church.

However, as VOA's Sabina Castelfranco reports, the 77-year-old Wuerl continues to maintain his innocence.

The cardinal has always spoken of his good record. Wuerl has also repeatedly said he did not know about the sexual misconduct of his predecessor in Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was forced to resign earlier this year due to allegations of sexual misconduct.

In a statement Friday, Cardinal Wuerl said, "The Holy Father's decision to provide new leadership to the archdiocese can allow all of the faithful, clergy, religious and lay, to focus on healing and the future." He added, "Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon."

Pope Francis' letter accepting Wuerl's resignation alarmed victims of abuse and their advocates.

That's Sabina Castelfranco reporting for VOA news.

Britain's Prince William, a passionate conservationist, is one of several world leaders pledging to work together to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and treat it as a serious and organized crimes.

This follows a two-day conference in London that ended Friday. They pointed out that the trade in endangered wildlife, such as elephant tusk, rhino horns and tiger bones, is worth an estimated $17 billion a year, and it's also pushing hundreds of species to the brink of extinction.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the conference the U.S. will give $90 million to programs that fight illegal wildlife traffickers.

And the Philippines has been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council, boosting President Rodrigo Duterte's reputation over two years of criticism against hitman-style killings in his country's crackdown on illegal drugs.

I'm Tommie McNeil, VOA news.