Turkey court frees U.S. pastor after two-year detention

13 October, 2018, 01:46 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • North Carolina Pastor Andrew Brunson Reportedly Set to be Released by Turkish Government

After his release, Donald Trump said Brunson would soon be back in the United States.

One of the witnesses, Büşra Fatma Ün, said she had never heard before that the members of the illegal PKK were treated at a hospital owned by a friend of Brunson and were then sent to Syria to fight.

"I am an innocent man". Brunson's case has been a source of tension between the two countries and triggered US sanctions and tariffs to be imposed on Turkey.

The diplomatic stand-off over Brunson, who led a small congregation at the Izmir Resurrection Church, accelerated a sell-off in Turkey's currency, worsening a financial crisis.

Brunson was first detained in October 2016 on allegations of assisting groups branded as terrorists as part of a crackdown by the Turkish government following a failed coup earlier that year blamed on US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

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Image copyright EPA Image caption Members of Mr Brunson's church celebrated in front of his house after he was released What was he accused of?

Brunson appeared in the courtroom in the western coastal town of Aliaga wearing a black suit, white shirt and red tie.

When the verdict was read out, he wept and hugged his wife Norine.

Brunson's mother told Reuters she and his father were elated at the news. An evangelical Christian pastor, he had also become a rallying cry for religious freedom advocates in the U.S. The release could boost Trump's ability to encourage such voters to support Republicans in large numbers in November 6 elections, which will determine whether the party keeps control of Congress. "I am also grateful that President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo, Ambassador Brownback, Senator Tillis, and other U.S. officials refused to take "no" for an answer for this man's release".

"Pastor Brunson was also well represented legally by our friends at the American Center for Law and Justice", Perkins adds, "and we commend them and their attorneys for the outstanding work they did on behalf of Pastor Brunson". "I look forward to returning home and being reunited with my family". NBC reported the news, citing the White House sources who added that the U.S. will ease economic pressure on Turkey as part of the deal. The U.S. maintains he is being held unjustly and has repeatedly called for his release.

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The White House did not comment beyond Trump's and Pence's tweeted statements.

The lira reversed a gain to a loss after the decision, trading 0.5 per cent lower at 5.9511 per dollar as of 4:40 p.m.in Istanbul.

The case against Mr Brunson, an evangelical preacher from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years, has led to United States tariffs and sanctions against Turkey and drawn condemnation from President Donald Trump.

In the end, pressure from Washington on Ankara was too much. "This is the day our family has been praying for - I am delighted to be on my way home to the United States".

Turkey bristled at suggestions that its judicial system is a foreign policy instrument, and has accused the US of trying to bend Turkish courts to its will with tariffs in August that helped to send the Turkish currency into freefall. "No deal", Trump replied when asked if his administration offered to remove some sanctions from Turkey in exchange for Ankara letting the pastor go. Several of Brunson's parishioners testified as witnesses, both for and against him.

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