Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

US Christian pastor freed from Turkey after Trump admin deal

North Carolina Pastor Andrew Brunson Reportedly Set to be Released by Turkish Government Officials believe US on verge of securing release of North Carolina pastor held in Turkey
| 13 October, 2018, 01:47

A Turkish court sentenced Andrew Brunson to 3 years in prison, stating that he had already served time during the trial since his arrest in 2016.

Turkish court convicts American pastor on 'terror charge, ' but with time served.

A Turkish court has ruled for the release of an American pastor at the heart of a diplomatic dispute between Turkey and the United States after a hearing on October 12 during which key witnesses flipped and the prosecution softened. He also faced up to 35 years in jail on charges of espionage. His wife Norine watched from the visitors' seating area as he listened to testimony from defence and prosecution witnesses.

But Turkey said its judiciary is independent and US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said she was "not aware" of any such settlement. Allies are expected to purchase hundreds of additional F-35s, and eight nations, including Japan, South Korea, Denmark and Norway, are cost-sharing partners in the program with the United States.

Erdogan, who has in the past taken aim at Brunson, appeared to distance himself from the case in his latest comments, saying he could not interfere in judicial affairs.

US pastor Andrew Brunson arrives at his home after his trial in Izmir, Turkey October 12, 2018.

In August, the us slapped sanctions on an array of Turkish officials and on some goods, sending Turkish currency into freefall.

A Turkish court has ordered the release of an American evangelical Christian pastor whose imprisonment sparked a row between Ankara and Washington. The man replied, "I never saw any bombs or bombers, but I'm a Turkish nationalist - to me, all Syrians are terrorists".

"I love Jesus. I love Turkey", an emotional Brunson, who had maintained he was innocent of all charges, told the court during Friday's hearing.


But in recent weeks, Brunson's release became the subject of talks "at the highest level" so that the U.S. and Turkey could move on to dealing with over issues facing the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, a United States diplomat told Middle East Eye.

But at the hearing, a witness told the court Kalkan was the source of those accusations.

He spent most of that time working for the Izmir Resurrection Church, which had a small congregation.

Turkey accused Brunson of participating in a 2016 coup to overthrow the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"We are grateful for the President's commitment and efforts in securing my release", said Pastor Andrew Brunson, shortly before leaving Turkey en route to the U.S.

The court's decision failed to improve tensions between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and Washington slapped sanctions on two Turkish officials and doubled tariff on Turkish steel and aluminum imports. Those moves, coupled with concerns over the government's economic management, helped trigger a Turkish currency crisis.

According to NBC News, the White House reached a deal with the Turkish authorities that will allow for Brunson to return to the U.S.in the next several days. But he had previously suggested a possible swap of Brunson for the Pennsylvania resident Fethullah Gulen - the cleric that Erdogan has accused of being behind the coup attempt.

Gulen, who is a lawful permanent resident of the USA living in Pennsylvania, has denied that allegation.

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