Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
World News | By Sandy Lane

American Pastor Andrew Brunson Has Just Been Released

American Pastor Andrew Brunson Has Just Been Released

During a hearing today, a Turkish court convicted him on an alleged "terror charge" before releasing him; a charge of espionage against him was dropped. Several of Brunson's parishioners testified as witnesses, both for and against him.

"I am an innocent man. I love Jesus. I love Turkey", said Brunson, wearing a dark suit and red tie.

Brunson is from Black Mountain.

The evangelical pastor has lived in Turkey for 23 years, running a church of about two dozen congregants in the coastal city of Izmir.

American Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson (C) was charged with spying and was placed under house arrest due to health considerations, in Izmir, Turkey, on July 25, 2018.

Turkey views the YPG as a terrorist group and an extension of the PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency on Turkish soil.

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The case has drawn the attention of North Carolina lawmakers, notably Republican Sen.

Brunson's release was a diplomatic triumph for Trump, who is counting on the support of evangelical Christians for Republican candidates ahead of congressional elections in November.

"It's been an extremely hard time for our family and we want to express our appreciation to the millions of people around the world who have faithfully prayed for this day", Brunson said.

With Washington slapping sanctions on Ankara, the crisis also sparked a crash in the Turkish lira in August that exposed Turkey's economic fragility.

Brunson's release "could reset Trump and Erdogan's relationship", Soner Cagaptay of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said.

American officials were quoted as saying that the United States military has a plan to fly the pastor back to America on a military aircraft. After repeated attempts to negotiate a deal to secure Brunson's release, the US responded with sanctions against Turkey, worsening an economic crisis that has seen the Turkish lira lose almost 40 per cent of its value this year. "President Trump has had a focus on it, the administration's had a focus on it, and we're very hopeful that we'll see a good outcome before too long". Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and others for their intervention. She says the church will have a welcome home party for Brunson sometime. "Will be home soon!"

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United States pastor Andrew Brunson has left Turkey and will land at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Saturday afternoon, according to the White House. He had faced up to 35 years in jail.

"The court also lifted judicial controls on Brunson - that means restrictions on his movements have been lifted and he is now free to leave the country", Kenyon reports.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Thursday that the U.S. was hopeful he will soon go free, but said she was unaware of any agreement for his release.

"The White House thought they had a deal after President Trump spoke with Turkey's president".

U.S. President Donald Trump is celebrating the release of an American pastor who was on trial in Turkey, saying he'll be back in the United States soon.

"However, I remain concerned with the troubling pattern of human rights abuses and ongoing religious persecution by Turkish authorities".

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In September 2017, Turkey made a decision to buy Russia's S-400 missile defense system, despite the opposition of its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies - and concerns from USA lawmakers that Russian Federation could collect intelligence on American F-35 technology with the systems.

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