Turk­ish court con­victs U.S. pas­tor of ter­ror yet frees him

The Hamilton Spectator - - Canada & World - ZEYNEP BIL­GIN­SOY

ALIAGA, TURKEY — A Turk­ish court on Fri­day convicted an Amer­i­can pas­tor of ter­ror links but re­leased him from house ar­rest and al­lowed him to leave the coun­try, a move that’s likely to ease ten­sions be­tween Turkey and the United States.

The court near the western city of Izmir sen­tenced North Carolina na­tive An­drew Brun­son to three years, one month and 15 days in pri­son for al­legedly help­ing ter­ror groups. But since the 50year-old evan­gel­i­cal pas­tor had al­ready spent nearly two years in de­ten­tion, Turk­ish law al­lowed him to re­main free with time served. An ear­lier charge of es­pi­onage against him was dropped.

Brun­son, a N.C. na­tive whose de­ten­tion had sparked a diplo­matic dis­pute be­tween the two NATO al­lies, had re­jected the es­pi­onage and ter­ror­re­lated charges and main­tained his in­no­cence.

Brun­son had faced up to 35 years in jail if convicted of all the charges. With tears in his eyes, he hugged his wife, Norine Lyn, as he awaited the de­ci­sion Fri­day.

Af­ter the verdict, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tweeted he was pray­ing for Brun­son, say­ing he “WILL BE HOME SOON!”

Lawyer Is­mail Cem Halavurt said Brun­son was ex­pected to leave Turkey for the U.S., but it was not clear when. His lawyer said the elec­tronic an­kle bracelet mon­i­tor­ing his house ar­rest was re­moved. Brun­son went back to his home in Izmir af­ter the court pro­ceed­ing.

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