Turk­ish court rules to re­lease US pas­tor Brun­son

Iran Daily - - International -

A Turk­ish court ruled on Fri­day to re­lease the US evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tian pas­tor at the cen­ter of a bit­ter diplo­matic row be­tween Ankara and Wash­ing­ton, a move that could be the first step to­ward mend­ing ties be­tween the NATO al­lies.

The court passed a three-year-and-1-1/2-month sen­tence on An­drew Brun­son, who had been charged with ter­ror­ism of­fenses, but said he would not serve any fur­ther time be­cause he had al­ready been de­tained since Oc­to­ber 2016, Reuters re­ported.

Wit­nesses said Brun­son wept as the de­ci­sion was an­nounced. Be­fore the judge’s rul­ing, the pas­tor told the court: “I am an in­no­cent man. I love Je­sus, I love Turkey.”

The case against Brun­son, an evan­gel­i­cal preacher from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years and was ar­rested two years ago, had led to US tar­iffs against Turkey and drawn con­dem­na­tion from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Brun­son was charged with links to Kur­dish mil­i­tants and sup­port­ers of Fethul­lah Gulen, the cleric blamed by Turkey for a failed coup at­tempt in 2016. Brun­son de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tion and Wash­ing­ton had de­manded his im­me­di­ate re­lease.

Ear­lier, wit­nesses told the court that tes­ti­monies at­trib­uted to them against the pas­tor were in­ac­cu­rate, height­en­ing ex­pec­ta­tions that Brun­son could be re­leased and re­turned to the United States.

Brun­son ap­peared in the court­room in the western coastal town of Aliaga wear­ing a black suit, white shirt and red tie. His wife Norine looked on from the vis­i­tors’ seat­ing area as he lis­tened to tes­ti­mony from de­fense and pros­e­cu­tion wit­nesses.

“I do not un­der­stand how this is re­lated to me,” Brun­son said af­ter the judge ques­tioned one of a se­ries of wit­nesses.

He said the judge was ask­ing the wit­ness about in­ci­dents Brun­son was not in­volved in.

The lira was lit­tle changed on the day. It had firmed three per­cent on Thurs­day on ex­pec­ta­tions that he would be re­leased. It stood at 5.910 at 1336 GMT.

OSMAN ORSAL/REUTERS Norine Brun­son, wife of US pas­tor An­drew Brun­son, de­parts for her hus­band’s court hear­ing in Izmir, Turkey, on Oc­to­ber 12, 2018.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iran

© PressReader. All rights reserved.