U.S. pas­tor con­victed in Turkey and freed

The Times-Tribune - - NATION & WORLD - BY ZEYNEP BIL­GIN­SOY

IZMIR, Turkey — An Amer­i­can pas­tor flew out of Turkey on Fri­day af­ter a Turk­ish court con­victed him of ter­ror links but freed him from house ar­rest, re­mov­ing a ma­jor ir­ri­tant in fraught ties be­tween two NATO al­lies still strained by dis­agree­ments over Syria, Iran and a host of other is­sues.

The court near the western city of Izmir sen­tenced North Carolina na­tive An­drew Brun­son to just over three years in prison for al­legedly help­ing ter­ror groups, but let him go be­cause the 50-year-old evan­gel­i­cal pas­tor had al­ready spent nearly two years in de­ten­tion. An ear­lier charge of es­pi­onage was dropped.

Hours later, Brun­son was trans­ported to Izmir’s air­port and was flown out of Turkey, where he had lived for more than two decades. He was to be flown to the U.S. mil­i­tary hospi­tal in Land­stuhl, Ger­many, then on to Wash­ing­ton, where he was to meet with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to­day.

“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. He tear­fully hugged his wife, Norine Lyn, as he awaited the court de­ci­sion.

“PAS­TOR BRUN­SON JUST RE­LEASED. WILL BE HOME SOON!” Trump tweeted af­ter the Amer­i­can was driven out of a Turk­ish prison in a con­voy. Later, af­ter Brun­son was air­borne, Trump told re­porters the pas­tor had “suf­fered greatly” but was in “very good shape,” and that he would meet with him at the Oval Of­fice.

BRUN­SON

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