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Turkey Finally Set Free US Pastor Andrew Brunson After Two Years
When Pastor Andrew Brunson was moved out of the Turkish prison and placed under house arrest in July, many people were hopeful that he would be returned to the U.S. soon after.
Now, after several months under house arrest, the Turkish government has decided to release the pastor. According to Fox News, today, October 12, Brunson stood before a Turkish court for a final hearing and it was decided that the pastor would be released and sentenced to the time he already served.
Pastor Andrew was arrested over alleged links to political groups, including the banned Gulenist movement, after a failed coup attempt in 2016.
The court convicted him of terror-related charges and sentenced him to three years in jail.
The Turkish judge’s ruling ended a tense diplomatic standoff between the U.S. and Turkey that began after Brunson’s October 2016 detention on terror and treason charges. Turkey targeted the 50-year-old pastor as part of a massive government crackdown following a failed coup months earlier. Brunson was officially sentenced to three years and one month in prison for the conviction; but, because he had already served two years in detention, dditional charges of espionage were dropped.
“This is the day our family has been praying for – I am delighted to be on my way home to the United States,” Brunson said in a statement provided by the American Center for Law and Justice, which had been working to secure his freedom.
“My entire family thanks the president, the administration, and Congress for their unwavering support,” he added.
Brunson appeared Friday at a prison complex in Izmir for his fourth hearing, telling the courtroom he’s “an innocent man.”
“I love Jesus. I love Turkey,” Brunson said, according to the Associated Press. Witnesses later said he wept as the verdict was announced.
The Reuters news agency reported that the pastor would be flown back to the US on a military aircraft.
The exact date of his return to the U.S. is not yet known, but President Trump has voiced on Twitter that Pastor Brunson will be home soon.
PASTOR BRUNSON JUST RELEASED. WILL BE HOME SOON!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2018